Jalapeño Watermelon Margaritas

June is always a fun month for us, not only is it my favorite season, but my husband and I are both June-babies so we generally throw a combined birthday extravaganza. Last year deployment left us spending our birthdays apart, so I knew this year we had to do it right. The theme (because yes we love a good theme party, mustache bash anyone?) was easy because we have been talking about having a fiesta themed party for years. Now, I've never been big on tequila, but when the sombrero fits.. 

I checked out one of my favorite blogs because I have seen their awesome margarita recipes and knew I would need some guidance from a pro. I finally whittled it down to classic, strawberry, and this jalapeño watermelon. Great life decisions were being made people. With some elbow grease and some help from my husband we squeezed an ungodly amount of limes, and it was worth it. I will note here that the other recipes were also amazing, and the classic margarita was the best classic I have ever had. 

Just so you can see how it went down, I set up a "choose your own adventure: style bar, with the watermelon margs we had the mix next to shots of varying heats. We soaked the jalapeños in the tequila for different lengths of time so people could choose how spicy they wanted it. I will say most of out friends are pretty bold and enjoyed the spicier tequilas. I found the most popular was the tequila that had the jalapeño in it for about 5 hours, it's really just a matter of taste. These were a huge hit with us, hopefully they will be for you too!

Jalapeño Watermelon Margaritas  (Print Me)
Yield: 4 servings

For the jalapeño tequila:
6 oz silver tequila
1 fresh jalapeño, sliced

For the margarita:
1 cup homemade margarita mix
2 generous cups chilled watermelon cubes (seeds removed if not seedless)
4 oz orange liqueur (or orange juice)
6 oz jalapeño tequila
Salt, for rimming

Place the tequila and jalapeño slices in a jar and let sit in the fridge for at least one hour (Shawnda warns not to leave longer than overnight, I'd trust her).

Place the watermelon cubes in a blender and process for ~1 minute until smooth. Pour through a strainer and discard the solids - you should have 1 cup of juice.

In a small pitcher, mix the watermelon juice with the homemade margarita mix and orange liqueur. Add the tequila and reserve the jalapeño slices, stirring to mix well.

Fill salt-rimmed glasses with ice and serve, garnishing each margarita with a tequila-soaked slice of jalapeño if you choose. Enjoy!

Source: Confections of a Foodie Bride


Key Lime Cupcakes with White Chocolate Frosting

Summer is almost here, can you feel it?! I can feel it all the way down to my bones and it makes me so happy! I am on a short break from school until summer classes start so I have been spending quite a bit of time on the beach and in my kitchen which are two of my favorite places. Last week a good friend came out from the midwest to visit my sister and I and it just so happened to be her birthday, and one of her favorite things is key lime pie so I started the hunt. I've made key lime pie before, but I think everyone needs cake on their birthday so I knew it was the direction I wanted to go, and I am so glad I did! 

Now when it comes to any type of cake or pie, I am a chocolate over citrus/fruit person all day. Furthermore, I'd take dark chocolate over white every time, so you wouldn't expect this to be my kind of dessert... but man, these are awesome! The white chocolate icing is insanely good, it's not too sweet and it's a perfect complement to the lime cake. And the cake, it's on point. It's just dense enough without being heavy, and it's not overwhelmingly limey which I was worried about. These were perfect, they were just what I hoped they would be and they were the quintessential summer dessert, and that's a pretty bold review from this dark chocolate lover.

Key Lime Cupcakes with White Chocolate Frosting  (Print Me)

¾ cups butter (softened)
1 ¾ cups granulated sugar
4 Tablespoons key lime zest
3 eggs
¼ cup key lime juice
3 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1½ cup buttermilk

⅔ cup good quality white chocolate, chopped
⅓ cup whipping cream
½ cup butter (softened)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 ½ cups powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 350º F. Line muffin cups with paper liners and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine butter, sugar, and lime zest until light and fluffy. Add eggs and lime juice and mix well.

In a separate bowl, combine flour and baking soda. Add ⅓ of the flour mixture to the wet ingredients, mix well, then add ½ the buttermilk and mix well. Continue to add in alternating portions until all buttermilk and flour is added and just combined.

Spoon prepared pans, filling until almost full (they won't rise too much). Bake for 18 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool 10 minutes in muffin pans before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Combine white chocolate and whipping cream in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high for 30 second intervals, stirring to combine in between. You will need to repeat this 3-4 times, or until the cream-chocolate mixture is completely combined and smooth. Allow to cool completely.

In a medium bowl, beat together cream-chocolate mixture with butter and vanilla until completely mixed. Add powdered sugar slowly, until frosting is light and fluffy. Frost cupcakes when they are completely cooled.


Eggplant Parmesan Quinoa Casserole

So, I have a little secret, I've been making this super awesome super healthy casserole for a while and I haven't shared it. Ekkkk. However, I think all will be forgiven once you try this. Now, I'm a firm believer my meals should have meat in them, and I'm not even a huge eggplant eater but in this recipe between the eggplant and the mushrooms you will forget there isn't a traditional meat in it.

I'm going to tell you another secret now, I know there are all these fancy ways to "prep" an eggplant for cooking, but I don't do them. I don't peel them, I don't soak them in ice water, I don't salt them and let them strain. I wash them and cut them, and that's good enough for me. Now if that fancy eggplant stuff is your thing, then go on with your bad self, but I don't find it to be necessary. I'm going to sidebar that and say if you notice your eggplant's skin is particularly tough, give it a quick peel before you cook it, but I've never had that problem. Now go, enjoy!

Eggplant Parmesan Quinoa Casserole (Print Me)

Ingredients :

2 cups cooked quinoa (you’ll need about 1 cup uncooked quinoa)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
2 cups sliced mushrooms
1 large eggplant (about 1 lb) cubed
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 jar tomato sauce (I use 1 25 oz jar Trader Joe’s Arrabiata Sauce)
~ 2 tablespoons olive oil
salt & pepper to taste
~ ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
1 ½ cups italian cheeses, grated (Trader Joes Quattro Formaggio is great)


Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C) and lightly grease 9x13 baking dish.

Heat olive oil in a large non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic and mushrooms then saute for 6 to 7 minutes, or until onions are translucent. Add eggplant cubes and saute for an additional 10 minutes, stirring frequently, making sure that the eggplant doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.

In the meantime, in another dry non-stick pan (or skillet) over medium-high heat, toast quinoa with red pepper flakes, black pepper and a pinch of salt for 2 minutes. Set aside.

Remove eggplant mixture from heat, add tomato sauce, quinoa and a handful of cheese, mix to combine. Salt to taste. Transfer to baking dish, top with remaining cheese.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until warmed through and cheese is bubbling (turn the broiler on and broil for 1 to 2 minutes to brown the top of the cheese if needed). Allow to sit a few minutes before serving.

Adapted from: The Iron You

** add other/more veggies if you prefer :)


Super Easy Pad Thai

Fast, easy and delicious is what fits the bill these days. While I truly love pouring myself into an extravagant dish, these day, ain't nobody got time for that! That's why I was so excited (and hesitant) about this dish. I love some pad thai, but I only ever made it one other time and it took a bunch of crazy ingredients and way too much time and I assumed that's what it took to get an awesome pad thai. I was wrong. This recipe is ridiculously easy and even more tasty, I threw in some chicken I had already prepped by simply poaching it, and boom, dinner. Enjoy!

Super Easy Pad Thai  (Print Me)

7 ounces pad Thai noodles (rice noodles)
1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 eggs
3 Tablespoons soy sauce
1 Tablespoon fish sauce
1 Tablespoon sriracha
2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 Tablespoons canola oil
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1 heaping Tablespoon peanut butter, microwaved until just melted
1 cup fresh bean sprouts
1 cup cilantro
3 scallions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped peanuts
Optional: cooked meat of your choice

Directions:Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Remove from heat and add the noodles, let sit roughly 10 minutes, or until soft. Drain and rinse under cool water.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium. Crack the eggs and scramble until set, 2 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the soy sauce, fish sauce, sriracha, lime juice, canola oil, brown sugar, and peanut butter whisking until combined.

Back in the large skillet, combine the noodles, Thai dressing, bean sprouts, scrambled eggs, cilantro, scallions and meet if using. Toss until combined and serve garnished with peanuts.

Source: Tablespoon via BevCooks


French Toast

When I worked retail, Sunday turned into just another day that I worked. Now, Sunday is again one of my favorite days. There's just something about getting to sleep in a little and making a big 'ol Sunday brunch that brings a huge smile to my face. It doesn't hurt if I get to have a mimosa, or two with that brunch too. 
I made this french toast a couple of weekends ago and it was perfect, nice and custard like in the middle without being soggy or dry. The orange zest gives it a little something fresh, and the spices are just enough to warm the recipe up. I used some challah bread but any thick cut, dense bread will do. And like most Sunday brunches, this one is served best with a side of bacon and a mimosa. Enjoy!

Challah French Toast  (Print Me)

8 large eggs
1 1/2 cups milk or half-and-half
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 Tablespoon honey/agave nectar
1 large loaf challah, brioche, or thick sliced bread
Unsalted butter
Olive oil

Preheat the oven to 250ºF to hold your cooked toast.

In a large shallow bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk/half-and-half, and all the seasonings. Slice the bread into ~3/4-inch thick slices. Soak slices in the egg mixture for 5 minutes, turning once.

Heat 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon oil in a very large saute pan over medium heat. Add the soaked bread and cook for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, until nicely browned. Place the cooked French toast on a sheet pan and keep it warm in the oven. Fry the remaining soaked bread slices, adding butter and oil as needed, until it's all cooked. Serve hot with maple syrup, or your topping of choice.

Slightly adapted from: Ina Garten


Quinoa Salad with Black Beans, Avocado & Cumin-Lime Dressing

I've been on quite the hiatis lately! Between my husband returning from deployment, the holidays, and another semester starting things have been pretty crazy around my house. I return to you with this healthy quinoa salad, it comes together pretty quick which is important for me right now and it makes a pretty big batch so it's great to snack on during the week.

I've got some things in the works so hopefully I can get on a more regular schedule and post more often. Any new recipes you are loving lately?

Quinoa Salad with Black Beans, Avocado and Cumin-Lime Dressing  (Print Me)


1 cup dry quinoa, rinsed
1 Tablespoon olive oil or coconut oil
1 3/4 cup water
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 avocado, chopped into chunks
handful cherry tomatoes, quartered
1/2 red onion, diced
1 small clove garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, chopped into chunks
small handful cilantro, diced
2 limes, juiced
1 teaspoon cumin
1 Tablespoon olive oil
salt, to taste


Warm the olive/coconut oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Once it’s hot add the rinsed quinoa and toast for about 2-3 minutes until it starts smelling nutty and lovely. Add water, stir once, cover, and simmer with a lid on for 20 minutes.
While the quinoa is cooking, prepare other ingredients. Prepare the dressing by combining the lime juice, oil, cumin, and salt. Whisk and adjust seasoning as necessary.

When the quinoa has finished cooking, remove it from heat and fluff with a fork. Add black beans and toss to warm them through. Let the quinoa cool for about five minutes and then add all the remaining ingredients, including the dressing, and mix. Adjust seasoning if necessary, serve room temp or refrigerate and serve chilled.


Brown Butter Pumpkin Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Frosting

Perhaps you were here yesterday, if so, then I'll just tell you.. told you so! These cupcakes are unapologetically fall, and maybe that's why I'm kinda in love. They start with brown butter, I mean, why wouldn't they. And they end with salted caramel, again, duh. And everything in between.. ohhh the in between. These are a dense, moist, spiced pumpkiny cake with a sweet and salty just carmeley enough frosting. They are the perfect representation of the deliciousness that is fall baking, so what are you waiting for?!

Brown Butter Pumpkin Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Frosting  (Print Me)
Yield: 15 regular or ~48 mini cupcakes


Brown Butter Pumpkin Cupcakes:
3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 2/3 cups all-purpose Gold Medal flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup fresh or canned pumpkin puree (not pie filling!)
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs

Salted Caramel Frosting:

Salted Caramel Sauce:
2 cups granulated sugar
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into pieces
1 cup heavy cream, at room temperature
1 tablespoon fleur de sel or Maldon sea salt flakes

3/4 cup butter, at room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup salted caramel sauce


To make the brown butter pumpkin cupcakes preheat your oven to 325º F. Line muffin cups with paper liners and set aside.

In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat and continue to cook, swirling occasionally, until butter turns golden brown. Remove from heat and pour into a bowl to stop the cooking, skim foam from top.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. In another bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree, sugars, eggs, vanilla extract, and brown butter. Add the flour mixture, and whisk until just combined.

Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each about three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, start checking at about 20 minutes for regular sized or ~12 minutes for minis. Transfer pans to a wire cooling rack and cool completely before removing cupcakes.

While the cupcakes are cooling, make the salted caramel frosting. Start by getting your ingredients ready, when you start you have to pay close attention so you don't burn the caramel. To begin, heat the sugar over medium high-heat in the bottom of a heavy 2-3 quart saucepan. When the sugar starts to melt, start whisking it. The sugar will clump up, but keep whisking as it continues to melt. When the sugar is melted, stop whisking and simply swirl the pan to move the sugar around.

Continue cooking the sugar until it reaches a deep amber color. Watch the pan very closely, this is where it is easy to burn the caramel. You want the caramel to reach 350º F (if you are new to making caramel, you'll want a thermometer).

As soon as the sugar reaches the dark amber color, carefully add the butter (it will bubble up). Whisk until butter is melted. Once melted, remove the pan from the heat and slowly pour in the heavy cream. The caramel will bubble up a lot as you add the cream so make sure you add it slow. Whisk until cream is incorporated and caramel is smooth. Whisk in the fleur de sel or sea salt flakes.

Let the caramel sauce cool for about 10 minutes in the pan. Pour the caramel into a large jar and cool to room temperature. Reserve 1/2 cup (plus more to drizzle if you wish) for the icing and store the rest in the refrigerator (it will keep for about a month).

Now it's time to make the frosting. Start by beating the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium-high speed until light in color and fluffy (about 3 minutes). Reduce speed to low, add powdered sugar, and mix until completely incorporated. Turn off the mixer, and then add the salted caramel sauce. Beat frosting on low to combine, and then increase to medium-high and beat until airy and thoroughly mixed (about 2 minutes).

Frost the cooled pumpkin cupcakes with the salted caramel frosting and and drizzle cupcakes with extra salted caramel sauce, if desired.

Source: Two Peas and Their Pod