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June 2014

Easiest salsa in the world

OK I admit I may have been a bit liberal in naming this post.  But in my book, this salsa is as easy to make as it would be to go to the store, buy a jar of the premade stuff and open it.  

And guess what?  

This tastes better.  

It's also prettier.  

So there. 

And right now produce is SO plentiful at the supermarkets it would be a shame to let any of those beautiful fruits and veggies go to waste.  Once you try this, you might have a hard time going back to the jarred stuff.

Ain't she purdy?

Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy Salsa

  • 1 small yellow onion diced
  • 1 small clove of garlic minced
  • 2 cups chopped cherry tomatoes
  • 1 cup chopped sweet peppers - I like to use different colors like yellow and orange)
  • 1/2 cup fresh or 1 Tbsp dried parsely*
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 Tbsp your favorite oil - I use avocado
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 a lemon

Mix up everything but the lemon in a big bowl.  Then squeeeeze that lemon over the top and put it in the fridge to absorb all the flavors for about an hour.  Now you're ready to dig right in.

*If you have been reading my blog for a while, you will already know that I HATE cilantro.  HAAAATE it.  But of course, you can substitute it for the parsely in this recipe if you are so inclined.

...Just don't ask me to taste test it.  


Celebrate #AllThingsDairy this June with 15 great recipes and a GIVEAWAY!

 This post is sponsored by the American Dairy Association and Dairy Council


Did you know that June is Dairy Month?

That means it's time to celebrate #AllThingsDairy!  

 Fresh nutritious dairy foods like milk, cheese and yogurt don't just taste delicious; they're good for your body! Dairy foods are the #1 source of calcium in most individual’s daily diet and offer 9 essential nutrients.  Milk and dairy products are fresh 365 days a year, making Dairy Month a great time to think about exciting, nutrient rich combinations like creative grilled cheese sandwiches, salads and refreshing desserts. 

 And what better way to join in the fun & deliciousness and celebrate "All Things Dairy" than with 15 Food Bloggers from around the country who are sharing some of their favorite dairy recipes?!

PLUS enter for a chance to win one of 3 Cuisinart ICE-30BC Pure Indulgence™ Frozen Yogurt-Sorbet & Ice Cream Makers to entice you to make your own delicious dairy treats this summer!

As part of this awesome blogging group, I've been asked to come up with a delicious dairy-based dish to share with you.  The first thing that came to my mind was fresh fruit and cold frozen yogurt.  So I checked the fridge to see what I had available.  Here's what I found: Greek yogurt, lemons, watermelon, strawberries, cucumbers and milk.  My mind went into its normal frenzy and came up with this: Granita

Strawberry Cucumber Watermelon Granita with Lemon Vanilla Frozen Yogurt 

 For the granita:

  • 5 cups fresh watermelon
  • 1/4 cup seedless cucumber- peeled or unpeeled depending on your taste
  • 6-7 ripe strawberries
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4-1/2 cup sugar

Add all ingredients to blender container starting with 1/4 cup sugar.  Whirl up until fully blended.  Taste the mixture for sweetness and add more sugar if needed.  You can choose to strain the mixture, but leaving all the pulp in will give your granita a nice texture.  Place the mixture in a flat glass pan and cover.  Place in the freezer for about 2 hours.  Using a fork, scrape the top layer of the mixture then put it back in the freezer.  

Granita scrape
In another 1-2 hours, scrape the rest of the mixture with a fork.  You will end up with a beautiful bunch of delicious shavings.  Transfer your granita to a sealable container and place it back in the freezer.

For the frozen yogurt:

  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup nonfat milk
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp lemon peel shavings

It is up to you how you would like to make your frozen yogurt.  If you have an ice cream maker (or WIN the one we are giving away!)  by all means add the above ingredients to it and let 'er rip.  But if you are like me, you may need to improvise.  I used a method that my kids and I have been using for a long time.  Just place all the ingredients in a sealable plastic bag, seal it, then place the sealed bag of ingredients into a larger sealable plastic bag along with as much ice as you can fit.  Add about a Tbsp of salt to the ice and seal it up.  Shake the bags as much as possible until you notice the yogurt starting to thicken and become frozen.  Once the yogurt is frozen, you can stop shaking and remove it to a freezer container.  

Serve the granita and yogurt together in a clear glass and enjoy!


 Please be sure to visit all these other awesome bloggers' sites for even more wonderful dairy based recipes!  I'm sure you won't be disappointed.  In fact, I think a party with ALL these delicious treats would be a great way to celebrate Dairy Month!

Souffle Bombay - Blueberry Cheesecake Shooters

What the heck's a bonbon?- Watermelon, cucumber and strawberry granita with lemon vanilla frozen yogurt

We're Parents!? - Strawberry Cheesecake Pancakes with Homemade Whipped Topping

It's a Keeper - 10 Homemade Ice Cream Recipes (round up)

Pass the Sushi - Blueberry Frozen Yogurt

Opera Singer in the Kitchen - Double Cheese Spinach and Mushroom Omelette

Real: The Kitchen and Beyond - Jarlsberg Mushroom Melts + 10 Grilled Cheese Ideas

The Vintage Mom - Frozen Strawberry Yogurt Pops + Some More Fresh Ideas!

Giggles, Gobbles, and Gulps- 10 Fun Ways to Drink Your Milk (round up of flavored milk recipes)

Little Kitchie - Spinach & Prosciutto Pizza

How I Pinch A Penny - Banana Pudding Shooters

Mind Over Batter - Strawberries and Cream Icebox Cake

Sugar Dish Me - Healthy Creamy Pasta Salad

Kitchen Conundrum- Rich & Creamy Macaroni and Cheese

The Suburban Soapbox - Chocolate Martini

The American Dairy Association & Dairy Council salutes its local dairy farmers with a celebration of #AllThingsDairy as they seek nutritious recipes combining milk, cheese and yogurt with fresh produce.  To learn more about the health benefits of dairy and the essential role it plays in your diet visit 

And now for the giveaway... 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

PLEASE remember to actually complete the task you have chosen on the Rafflecopter form in order for your entry to count.  Entries will be disqualified if the task is not completed. (Example: if you choose to leave a blog post comment, you MUST actually leave a comment in addition to checking the box on the form.)

Thank for reading and best of luck to you!  I hope you win!

Good times and growlers at Pinelands Brewing Co

It is always exciting when a new business comes to the area.  It's more exciting when that business is run by locals.  It's even MORE exciting when the product they are selling is great.  But you know what really makes a new business run by locals that are selling a great product the BEST?  

When that product is beer.

Pinelands Brewing Co. came to town with their hops and their hopes of bringing their delicious brews to the public.  Little did they know that they would be selling out of their delicious beers every week.

My friend Kate and I visited recently and sampled a few of Pinelands Brewing Co.'s awesome selection.  We were there for their Teacher Appreciation happy hour on a Friday evening.  (No, I'm not a teacher.  But Kate is, so I snuck in under her wing.)  I introduced myself to one of the owner's Nick Brown who not only allowed Kate and me to taste test their beer, but also showed us around a bit.

By the time we got there, they were already sold out of their award winning Pitch Pine Ale.  But we were able to sample the Lemon Wheat, Evan John Porter and the Cherry Porter.  

The Lemon Wheat was very refreshing with a really crisp, clean lemon flavor and light carbonation.  It reminded me of a summer shandy.  I could drink that on the porch on a hot summer day easily.

The Evan John Porter had a fuller flavor, but didn't taste heavy.  It tasted like an alcoholic vanilla soda to me.  I am thinking of trying it in a beer float like my friend Linda at Giggles Gobbles and Gulps makes! (I was GOING to try it using the growler of Evan John Porter we brought home afterwards, but... it didn't last long enough for me to get the ice cream.)  

The Cherry Porter was my favorite.  Cherry anything is my favorite, to be honest.  So cherries in beer was like a super duper treat.  The beer has a dark color, but tastes surprisingly light.  I could seriously get in trouble if I had any of that at home right now.  

We also sampled their delicious birch beer which has a robust birch flavor and a pretty light pink color.

We got to see where all the magic happens and learned the process they use to make their delicious beers.  Here are some pics from our trip!

Kate and me about to do some sampling!
Nick Brown showing us the first step in the brewing process
Next it's into the fermenting closet for a few weeks
Then it's carbonated and chilled to perfection
And then it's out the tap and into ma' belly!

I'm really happy to have visited the Pinelands Brewing Co. and plan to go back many more times.  The "grass roots" atmosphere is great with two tasting stations and a bunch of picnic tables out back where you can sit and relax with your beer.  You can tell they are passionate about their beers and their environment by the inviting smiles and their willingness to talk about their operation.  Nick Brown was very open to answering any of our questions about the brewing process and the beers themselves.  It was such a great night, Kate and I closed the place!  

No, we're not lushes... they closed at 7PM that night

Check out Pinelands Brewing Co. in Little Egg Harbor, NJ.  The Brewery is open every Saturday 2-6 for tours, tastings and packaged goods (22oz Bombers & 64oz Growlers when available).  Check out the Pinelands Brewing Co. Facebook page and Twitter @PinelandsBrew to find out what beers will be on tap before your next visit!  


My experience (so far) with avocado oil and a recipe for pan grilled balsamic chicken

The other day I got a question from my friend Heather on our What the heck's a bonbon? Facebook page.  

"Any experience using Avocado oil instead of EVOO? Saw some today and was curious as to how it compares..."

I had never tried it before, so of COURSE I had to go buy some.  So far, my experience with it has been wonderful!  The main difference between avocado oil and EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) is the high smoke point.  The one I bought (Chosen Foods brand) can be used at up to 500° while EVOO can only stand about 375°.

I used the avocado oil to pop some corn on the stovetop because of its very high tolerance for heat.  I was able to put the burner on high without the oil burning.  The popcorn turned out great!  It might just be in my head, but I really think the kernels popped a bit fluffier using avocado oil than my usual canola.  And it didn't give the popcorn any additional flavor.

I also used it to coat my pan for my breakfast eggs the next morning.  Again, there was no additioanl taste and my eggs came out perfect.

That night I also used it to cook some delicious balsamic chicken which I served with some greens and pasta salad.  The chicken was very flavorful and cooked to perfection. Here is the recipe: 

Balsamic chicken

Pan grilled balsamic chicken 

    • 6 thinly sliced pieces of boneless skinless chicken breast
    • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
    • 1 clove garlic crushed or 1/2 tsp garlic powder
    • Salt & pepper to taste
    • 2 Tbsp avocado oil

Place the chicken breasts in either shallow glass bowl or a plastic bag.  Add the balsamic vinegar, garlic and salt & pepper.  Cover the chicken and let it marinate for about 1/2 hour.  Coat your indoor grill pan or regular frying pan with the avocado oil and place on a medium high burner.  Place the chicken in the pan and cook on medium high for about 5-6 minutes each side or until the chicken is cooked through.  Serve with greens and pasta salad or whatever you'd like.  It's also great cold the next day in a sandwich with bitter greens, roasted peppers, fresh mozzarella and a drizzle of some more balsamic vinegar.

I hope you'll try avocado oil for yourself!  I know I'm going to keep using it.  And Heather, I hope this answers your question! 



Fun times at Laurita Winery

Two weeks ago, my family and I ventured to Laurita Winery's Food Trucks and Firepits festival.  I decided to write about it because WOW it was awesome.

As soon as we pulled up, I fell in love with the place.  Everything about it just screamed, "I love you, Cindy.  Please come sit in my fields and drink my wine."

So, I did.

I also ate.

A lot.

Here are some pics:


I stood right there and tried a whole bunch of Laurita's beautiful wines, but my favorite was Barcelona White.  My husband and I bought a bottle which they gave to us in an ice bucket with two glasses to share throughout the day.


My daughter and I then took a walk in the beautiful pathways on the outskirts of the winery.

Then it was time to EAT!  We stopped and sampled treats from several food trucks.  My husband enjoyed a Fat Philly sandwich from Five Sisters Catering.  (It had EVERYthing in it! Steak, chicken fingers, mozzerella sticks, cheese and sauce!  Delicious!)  My daughter had a homemade waffle bowl filled with ice cream from Waffle de Lys.  I tried a smoked brisket sandwich with a side of beans at the Taste of Smoke BBQ truck.  My son went with a hotdog from Jersey Johnny's Grill

Flash back to 5 minutes before arriving at Laurita:  I said to my family, "Let's all try at least ONE thing today that we have never had before."  Everyone agreed.

Flash forward to the Empanada Guy food truck when we all tried empanadas for the first time.

We LOVED them!  We tried three kinds: cheese, beef and chicken.  In fact, we went back for seconds!  Can't wait to run into the Empanada Guy again!


All told, our trip to Laurita Winery was fantastic.  The company was wonderful, the wine was great, and the food was awesome.  I can not wait to go back again and enjoy their beautiful wines and absolutely stunning views.   IMG_4147