Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Holiday Recap

Guys. It's December 31, 2013. HOW?! Wow. For fear of repeating myself ad nauseum, I'll spare you the "this has been the toughest/weirdest/craziest/most challenging year of my life to date" spiel, and just say--2014, you're going to be a better year! :)

The past couple of weeks have been busy and full of family, fun, and naturally, food! Here's a brief photo recap of the holidays as I bid farewell to 2013 in anticipation of a wonderful, adventurous, exciting, and fulfilling 2014.
Vanilla Christmas Tree cupcakes (Vanilla cupcakes with vanilla cream cheese frosting)

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Baked Eggs in Baked Potato Shells

Christmas is coming! Hooray! :) I'm thrilled. I hope you guys are well and enjoying this December! 
And...school is out for the semester!! WHEEEEE!! Oh my gosh, guys--the past couple of weeks at work have been rough, mostly because the students who procrastinated all semester were rushing in to get things done last minute--and also because the students who performed poorly in their classes received notification about their academic standing.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Sausage Breakfast Strata

It's "Icepocalypse 2013" here in North Texas--or "Icemaggedon", as others are calling it. On Thursday, the 5th, an "Arctic Cold Front" blew into our region, causing cold, windy, damp weather to become icy rain and snow, which has frozen several inches thick and has completely covered every surface of the DFW area, rendering everyone housebound and mostly useless. There have, sadly, been multiple fatalities and some unthinkable traffic troubles (there were some people stuck on the highway for more than twelve hours one night!)
During this unexpected mini vacation, I'm here in the apartment by myself, and I'm loving every minute of it! I really enjoy my time alone, though (fully embracing my status as an introvert), so I don't really experience cabin fever or stir-craziness, (I've been fortunate); however, my Facebook news feed bears witness to the distaste people have for being restrained to the indoors for longer than several hours at a time.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Cranberry Orange Cream Cheese Cupcakes with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting

Happy Thanksgiving, guys : ) Wow. What a year it's been--and boy, do I have LOADS of gratitude for where I am in life right now. Among other things, I am so thankful for you--my readers! This blog has been such a fun, interesting, challenging addition to my life--and I get so excited about each new recipe I share with you guys, and love when you provide feedback. You're the best!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Turkey, Spinach, and Bacon Meatballs

Okay, guys. These meatballs are...well, first--HI. How are you? I hope things are well. I can't believe that Thanksgiving is so close! Where did the year go? Do you have anything fabulous planned? I hope some quality time with your family and loved ones is "on the menu."
Alright--back to the meatballs: I think this is the first time I've ever made meatballs from scratch. Seriously. I've made hamburgers and meatloaves, but meatballs--this was a first, and I have no idea why I waited so long! These were so easy and stinkin' delicious

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Spinach & Pomegranate Stuffed Pork Chops with Smashed Red Potatoes

Hello, friends! How's everything? I hope you're well and having a wonderful week. It's nice to be writing again so soon :) You know, I love this time of the year--and I love all of the fun the seasonal produce available--it means new ingredients for me to experiment with; namely, pomegranate! I had never worked with one before today, so it was fun learning how to cut and de-seed it. (<--Is that a word?)

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Caramel Apple Cinnamon Spice Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

HELLO and welcome to November. Where has the year gone? And WHERE HAVE I BEEN?!! Oh gosh, guys. I'm sorry I've been so far removed! Work has been extremely busy and I've hardly been cooking at ALL lately. I miss the kitchen--and you guys.
I did make time to bake these cupcakes for a bake sale at work last week, then revised and improved them over the weekend. They aren't healthy (sorry), so I made sure to take them to friends and share with plenty of people.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

A Belated Happy Birthday to Me--and Dark Chocolate Truffle Cupcakes with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

Hi, guys! I celebrated my birthday this week! It was on Monday, the 21st, and I had actually drafted a blog for you--it was like a "year in review" kind of thing. However, it got to be pretty lengthy--and then the week was SUPER busy--and now, here we are, Saturday morning...ugh, sorry!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Stuffed Zucchini Boats

Hi, friends! I've got a couple of things to report! 1) Feeling adventurous, I took a Pilates class for the first time ever last night in place of my normal Zumba class, and today, everything hurts. Pilates is a body conditioning routine that emphasizes developing a strong core and practicing good breathing. It also helps to improve muscle strength and flexibility, endurance, blah blah blah.
Though the objectives are lofty and lovely, the point is, today, I cannot laugh, cough, sneeze, or perform any actions that may accidentally engage my abdominal muscles because they hurt. *Sigh* Oh, and so do my inner thighs...come to think of it, my lower back, shoulders, and triceps are sore too. Sheesh. It's a good hurt, but it still hurts. On the brighter, less painful side, 2) I've lost a little more than eight pounds in the past three weeks :) I know it isn't much, but I think it's important to celebrate small victories. I'm excited and encouraged! :)

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Cinnamon Oatmeal Banana Pancakes

Hi, guys :) I hope you're well and enjoying the fall-ish weather wherever you are (I add the "ish" because it still gets above 90 degrees here in Texas, but those days are nearing their end...I hope!) I've been craving pancakes lately, but given my new diet parameters, was a little unsure about how to proceed!
So the internet came to my rescue, like usual :) I found a recipe that utilized oatmeal in place of flour and bananas in place of sugar--with very few other ingredients! Hearty whole grains and delicious pancake goodness all around? I'm so in!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Avocado and Prosciutto Turkey Burgers with Baked Sweet Potato Fries

Okay...so I used prosciutto today, for the first time...it certainly won't be the last. Oh. My. YUM! If you're unfamiliar, prosciutto is a smoked, cured ham product, usually thinly-sliced. It's similar to bacon, but "fancier" :)

Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes

September is a busy birthday month for me, because all of my siblings celebrate their birthdays during this month! Hooray for birthdays--and hooray for birthday cupcakes!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Sweet Italian Turkey Sausage & Peppers

It's a damp, gray night here in north Texas, with  a 70% chance of rain tomorrow (you're welcome for the forecast. I bet you didn't know I'm also a meteorologist in my spare time. HA!). Weather like this always makes me want to eat comfort food, take a nap, or watch a movie in my sweats and socks.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Spinach and Cranberry Loaded Sweet Potatoes

Well, tomorrow marks two weeks since my diagnosis, and overall, I feel fantastic! I've had to make some some major adjustments, mostly in the way of taking medication so often and checking my blood sugar consistently throughout the day, but I'm really feeling good.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Turkey Chili Taco Soup...and More Real Life

Hi, friends. I hope you're well! So...since the last time I posted, there have been some substantial changes in my life, which mean I'll be making some subsequent changes here at Foodie & Fabulous.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Lemon Cheesecake with Strawberry Basil Topping

It's Labor Day! In addition to a lovely day off of work, I typically spend Labor Day with my family--we have a cookout and invite lots of friends. We have a cookout or some kind of food-related party for every holiday, which gives me a reason to experiment and come up with new desserts to please the crowd :)
I think today's cheesecake did the trick! Packed full of tart lemon flavor and topped with juicy strawberries and fresh, spicy basil, this fresh cheesecake delivered all of my favorite elements of summer (even though it's September now...come on, fall weather!!)

Monday, August 26, 2013

Stacked Beef and Bean Enchiladas

Hey, guys! Today, I was in the mood for something meaty, cheesy, flavorful, and filling. Enchiladas sounded so delicious, but I also wanted something simple, without the added step of filling and rolling tortillas.
These stacked enchiladas were the perfect compromise: it provided all the meaty, beefy cheesiness I wanted with half the effort! I was thrilled. This recipe is extremely customizable to fit anyone's tastes! I used corn tortillas, ground beef, black beans, and some canned diced tomatoes; you may want to switch it up and use flour tortillas, shredded chicken, green chile sauce, pinto beans, or an extra spicy sauce.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Strawberry Limeade Salad

Man, today was a hot day in North Texas. Even though, officially, the temperature was under 100 degrees, it clearly didn't matter, because the air was so suffocatingly thick, it felt like heat waves were radiating from the pavement. I'm surprised my shoes didn't melt!
On days like today, there's just no point in firing up the stove. I couldn't bring myself to do it (as I was too busy chugging a gallon of water to replenish everything the heat stole from my body!) So the dinner answer was simple: something refreshing.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Shrimp and Broccoli Stir-fry

I love quick food. I especially love quick, healthy, delicious food! Stir-fry is quick. Stir-fry is also quick, healthy, and delicious! If we were doing one of those "process of elimination" or "deduction" exercises, one might ultimately deduce from my statement that I love stir-fry...and one would be correct!
If you have leftover rice or quick-cooking minute rice, you can have this entire meal ready in less than 30 minutes. QUICK! Stir-fry is a wonderful way to get lots of veggies, fiber, flavor, and healthy protein into your diet. To this stir-fry, I added shrimp, broccoli, bell pepper, and carrots, and served it over some unsalted brown rice (the stir-fry had plenty of flavor on its own!)

Simple Mango Sorbet (No Ice Cream Maker Needed!)

I was telling my roommate recently about these almost-daily cravings I experience for something intensely cold and fruity. I don't know what it's about, but when the craving hits, it's like I need a BURST of fruity flavor right away. The craving hit on Saturday afternoon and sent me running to the nearest frozen yogurt shop in search of something--you guessed it--cold and fruity.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Shrimp, Black Bean, and Bell Pepper Tostadas

Today has been a very relaxed, "do as little as possible" kind of day. I love that about Sundays :) I extended my "do as little as possible" to my lunch plans as well--I wanted something easy, quick, healthy, and tasty.
As such, I am very thankful for foods like pre-cooked shrimp, canned black beans, and corn tortillas--they made my life so much easier today! This tostada topping would also make a wonderful filling for tacos, so keep that in mind if searching for variations.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Strawberry Mango Salsa with Baked Salmon

It's late summer now, and I am SO EXCITED because that means one thing: fall is coming!!! The way I see it: if you don't like fall, you're wrong. Fall is the best time of the year, ever. Period. I mean, come on--in addition to fall attire (boots, scarves, sweaters--hooray!), the weather is fabulous for football, bonfires...and fall FOOD?!! Oh, don't even get me started. Ugh, I can't wait! :)
In the meantime, though, I'm not trying to hate on summer, because summer definitely comes with so many AMAZING, fresh, wonderful flavors, like those showcased in the delightful salsa I made today! Mango, strawberries, cilantro, red onion, and lime juice = Strawberry Mango Salsa. Seriously, that's it. No salt, no pepper (unless you want to add it), and you have a bowlful of summer! Mmm.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Honey Ham, Mushroom, and Pepper Jack Omelet

It's been a lazy Saturday here at casa de Esther. Thank God, because it's been such a hectic week--it's nice to have some time to do a little bit of nothing :) I think eggs are the perfect breakfast food for lazy people, as they come pre-wrapped in their own little package (perfect for portion control) and they can stand on their own or blend in with everything else.
This morning, omelets were the order of the day, both because I don't have lots of groceries at the new place yet and also because the few things I do have lend themselves beautifully to omelets! The beauty of this dish is that anything goes. You can stuff nearly anything into an omelet and it will be delicious! It's a great way to get a healthy serving of veggies and protein at the same time.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Cracked Pepper Oven Roasted Fries

Ugh...guys, it's been too long since I last posted. I'm sorry! Since you last heard from me, I have moved to a new apartment (read: unpacking, arranging and rearranging, purging, and spending entirely TOO much money on living costs). 
The good news is, though, that I have a new KITCHEN in which to cook, bake, and enjoy life. I'm so excited to bring you new recipes from my new home! I christened the new oven tonight with these easy, delicious, healthy oven fries. Mmm. Carbs <3

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Lime Pie Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

You know, I've always wanted to work in an office where I could bring baked goods to share with everyone...and happily, my workplace fits the bill! I made these Lime Pie Cupcakes yesterday and brought them into the office this morning.
So far, the feedback has ranged from "We KNEW we hired you for a good reason!" to "Your food is just too good. I mean, great personality, but the CUPCAKES!" to "You're going to be around for Halloween, right? We're having a bake sale! Get ready! You're going to make us MILLIONS!" :) I've been smiling all morning :)

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Korean Beef Bowl

It's been two weeks since I last posted, but it feels like forever! Work has been incredibly busy with all of the new student orientations, and by the time I get home, all I want to do is SLEEP--the kitchen can wait! I'm loving my job, though, so I'm thrilled! :)
It felt so good to be back in there today, though, and cooking with some savory, delicious flavors! This Korean beef bowl is actually a "cheater" recipe; a twist on a Korean dish called bulgogi. Bulgogi is traditionally made with marinated seared steak.  This ground beef version is much faster, extremely delicious, and very inexpensive to make!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

I love oatmeal raisin cookies. Something about the hints of vanilla and spicy cinnamon combined with chewy brown sugar, oatmeal, and plump raisins just makes my mouth happy--that is, in a oatmeal raisin cookie done right! These are delicious little cookies--both easy to make and fun to eat :)
I refrigerated the dough prior to baking, which made for a thicker, chewier cookie. Additionally, I plumped the raisins before adding them to the dough. This absolutely made all the difference between a "just okay" cookie and an "oh my gosh, give me another!" cookie.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Red, White & Blue Cheesecake Cake

I'm feeling patriotic today, guys. I am an African-American woman living in the United States with the freedom to learn, work, achieve, and accomplish virtually whatever I want. I am free to vote, to travel, to speak freely, to love whomever I want, and to worship as I wish with no fear... What an incredible blessing. That was not always the case for women like me-- and for the sacrifices of those before me, who made my life possible, I owe a great debt of thanks.
Okay. Now. When I first saw this cake, I gasped. Seriously. The depth and richness of the colors amazed me--but knowing that the middle layer was cheesecake...that sealed the deal for me. The colored layers are vanilla cakes! It's like a vanilla  cheesecake sandwich! Gah!

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Cups

Hey, guys! Remember the chewy chocolate chip cookies I made recently? They were absolutely delicious! However, I have a mixed track record when it comes to cookies: I love to eat them, and sometimes when I make them, they turn out well; but overall, I don't have very good luck when it comes to baking them! For whatever reason, they tend to spread much too thin for my liking, even after refrigerating the dough.
So I found a solution: bake them in muffin tins! That way, they have no chance of spreading! They're trapped and have no choice but to bake up into a dense, delicious, buttery cookie. That's what happened with these--and man, they are tasty!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

One Pot Wonder Tomato Basil Pasta with Sausage

This is another one of those recipes that I've seen floating around the internet, and as usual, I was curious! The appeal of a one-pot meal is, indeed, that it only requires the use of one pot from start to finish. (Technically, I used one pot and one frying pan to make the sausage).
This pasta is as easy as it claims to be, and just as savory too! I made this for my family for lunch after church today, and my main concern was making a vegetarian meal for them (primarily my siblings, who are true carnivores and junk food lovers), hence the addition of the sausage.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Chewy Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

Have you ever been the recipient of kindness from a total stranger? I'm talking about a situation where someone you didn't know did something totally unexpected for you, and you were surprised and overwhelmed by their good-hearted actions. This happened to me this week--and these cookies are a thank-you gift.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Luscious Lemon "Brownies"

I know, I know. Brownies are supposed to be BROWN--as in, ooey, gooey, and oozing with tons of  chocolatey goodness. I haven't forgotten! But you know me and my lemons...I saw this recipe on Becky Charms and couldn't help myself!

Caprese Salad with Brown Sugar Balsamic Reduction

Hi, friends! Things are going great at the new job so far, and I'm so thankful. However, I definitely miss having so much time in the kitchen, and definitely try to make up for lost time on the weekends. With that in mind, you get two recipes today! Get excited! :)
I have some gorgeous fresh basil in my garden that I've been SO EXCITED to use! A crisp, fresh Caprese salad seemed like the perfect platform to showcase my basil, especially on a muggy Texas day like today. It's colorful, healthy, and so flavorful!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Banana Butterscotch Muffins

Okay, so you remember when I told you about my family's "love 'em and leave 'em" habits with bananas? If not, refer to this muffin recipe from a few months ago. Well, we have the same situation here--some beautiful brown bananas that needed a new home! I rushed to the rescue with this super easy and absolutely delicious muffin recipe.
They come together quite quickly and smell WONDERFUL while they're baking. Also, the addition of butterscotch chips really takes these incredibly moist, luscious muffins over the top. This may be the best banana muffin to come out of my kitchen yet!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

A Blurb from Real Life...

Hey there :) Today, I'm here with a personal entry rather than anything food-related.

Tomorrow morning, I begin a new job as an academic advisor at a large local university. I am SO excited about this job--both because I have been broke unemployed for quite some time, and also because this job marries my natural talents, gifts, and interests with the counseling degree I earned in December. However, the road here has been much different than I expected.

Friday, May 31, 2013

White Chocolate Chip Lemon Blondies

Okay. Before we begin, you should know that these blondies are the result of scattered thinking and a kind of "pick your own adventure" baking idea. The trouble is: everything I thought of sounded delicious!
I knew I wanted blondies, definitely, so I started searching for recipes. Then I thought, "Oooh, white chocolate would be PERFECT in these!" Of course, THAT thought reminded me of a Snickerdoodle White Chocolate Blondie recipe I saw on Sally's Baking Addiction, which sounded too good to be true...and then I remembered that I still had half a lemon left from garnishing the Lemon Cupcakes I made earlier this week. I love lemon in desserts! How much more so in these blondies?!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Lemon Cupcakes with Browned Butter Cream Cheese Frosting

To me, nothing signifies the arrival of warm summer months more appropriately than a good lemon dessert--lemon bars, (mmm, lemon bars), lemon cookies, and today, lemon cupcakes!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Spinach, Tomato, Bacon, & Cheddar Crustless Quiche

I love making meals that I can enjoy for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Quiche is one such meal, especially because it requires very little effort on my part--I grab some tasty filling options, beat a few eggs, throw it all in the oven, and I'm eating in under an hour! My favorite part of quiche is the freedom to add as many ingredients as I want.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Pulled Pork Tacos with Fresh Cherry Salsa

I love pulled pork! Done right, the meat is moist, flavorful, and absolutely delicious--and it's so versatile! It goes with everything. I had some leftover from a cookout this weekend, and found this recipe for pulled pork tacos with cherry salsa.

Monday, May 20, 2013

BLT Spaghetti Carbonara

I am dog/house-sitting for a friend this week, who gave me full access to use everything in her kitchen (including a brand new, unopened package of bacon!!), so this is a guest kitchen post! :)
It's a stormy kind of night, which I think is PERFECT weather for a big, indulgent bowl of pasta, a glass of wine, and a movie! I found this recipe at Tide & Thyme, and it's delicious. Speaking of storms--prayers for the people affected by the crazy tornado in Oklahoma today. How awful. Tonight, I'm thankful for my safety and that of my friends and family.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Healthy Red Bean & Avocado Tostadas with Creamy Cilantro Sauce

So I've been making a lot of delicious sweet treats lately, and I really felt the need for a change of pace toward a healthier dish. These tostadas fit the bill perfectly! Everything in them contains heart-healthy whole grains, filling protein, and good-for-you flavors!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Fluffy Blueberry Pancakes

I don't think I've ever found a bad time to eat pancakes. They're delicious for breakfast, tasty for lunch, and ideal for dinner with some bacon and eggs...mmm.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Blueberry Lemon Cheesecake Bars

The minute I saw these bars on Sally's Baking Addiction, I knew I couldn't pass them up. To me, blueberry and lemon are quintessential indicators that spring has arrived, particularly when combined and in cheesecake form. Good lord.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Sparkling Blueberry Muffins

My sister, who dislikes almost all sweet treats (including chocolate. What?!!) LOVES blueberry muffins--and honestly, who doesn't? She requested that I make some blueberry muffins for her, so I agreed. However, she doesn't know that I made them today! She has finals this week, so I decided to surprise her. She'll be thrilled when she gets home : )
I've never made blueberry muffins from scratch before, so I figured this would be a great place to start! I LOVE the addition of sparkling sugar on the top to make these that much more beautiful : ) The extra crunch that the sugar lends is an added bonus! : ) This recipe is from Sally at Sally's Baking Addiction (seriously. GORGEOUS blog.)

Baked Eggs in Avocado

Avocado. What a beautiful, versatile, wonderful fruit! It makes for a very happy chef indeed : ) I love them in guacamole, on sandwiches, and on their own with a little salt and pepper, but, I was curious about the baked eggs in avocados recipe I've seen floating around Pinterest and other places, so today, I decided to give it a try.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Restaurant Style Salsa with Baked Lime Tortilla Chips

Yesterday was cinco de Mayo, and I didn't get to celebrate! You see, I threw an enormous party for my Dad's 60th birthday on Saturday. The party was wonderful--we had a huge turnout and everyone had a great time. Party planning is hard work, though, and THIS one completely wore me out, so I didn't do a THING yesterday. As such, I'm having my celebration a day late-- I doubt you mind : )
I proudly present to you: Restaurant Style Salsa with Baked Lime Tortilla Chips... all together now, "Mmmmm!" You know how I feel about easy, tasty recipes--they are my FAVORITE. This is one such recipe--I hope you love it!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Breakfast Quesadilla

I think it's pretty fair to say that quesadillas rank quite high among the ultimate comfort foods. I mean, come on. A flour tortilla filled to the brim with gooey melted cheese and other assorted flavorful goodies? Oh, yes. A thousand times, YES!
Upon finding a brand new package of tortillas in the kitchen, my response was a squeal of excitement, immediately followed by a breakfast quesadilla. I stuffed it full of cheese, fluffy scrambled eggs, crispy bacon, corn salsa, and topped it with pico de gallo and sour cream.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Simply Sinful Cinnamon Muffins

Lately, I've been craving sweet, spicy cinnamon, especially in baked goods--it just makes everything taste so warm, homey, and comforting! I've been hunting for a cinnamon cupcake or muffin recipe, but nothing has been just right until TODAY...the name of the recipe is "Simply Sinful Cinnamon Muffins." Mmm.

Cinnamon sugar swirl through the middle; crunchy cinnamon sugar oatmeal streusel on top...I can't really see a downside here!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookie Bars

I honestly have trouble finding a tastier, more comforting flavor combination than the magical marriage of peanut butter and chocolate.
It's as if God said, "Let there be happiness!" and suddenly, there they were: peanut butter and chocolate... : ) Seriously. Today's recipe is adapted from Averie over at Averie Cooks (gorgeous blog!) and it's quick, easy, and above all, delicious. : ) I hope you enjoy these as much I as have!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Banana Cream Cheese Muffins with Streusel Topping

Muffins are my favorite. To be fair: I have LOTS of favorites, but muffins rank pretty high on the list--and lately, I've been baking a lot of banana muffins. You see, my mom has a habit of buying tons of bananas at a time; however, my family only eats bananas when they're firm, bright yellow, and just ripe. Once they start to get spotty and brown, my mom buys more fresh ones, leaving the "old" ones sad and lonely, and thus continues the cycle.
Happily, I am in the banana-rescuing business, and I am all too willing to make fabulous treats from any and all orphaned bananas! Today's recipe is adapted from Jen at How To: Simplify.