Category:

Food

Food is more than just something you put in your mouth to your fuel your body. Food is an adventure, a shared experience with someone you love, it’s traveling to a distant part of the world and it brings people together.

In our family are foodies. I come from a long line of foodies. We were taught to try everything and I’ve raised my daughters to try everything twice.

Here I will review different restaurants, share recipes and try foods that you may otherwise have never heard of or known about. My goal is to share all the good we discover and give my readers, and my family, exposure to different kinds of cuisines and tastes.

Food is something that connects all humans. We all need it. We all love it. The more we understand the foods of different cultures, the more we can understand it’s people and the world can always use a little more human understanding.

Thanksgiving recipes, How to make sweet potato casserole, sweet potato casserole, sweet potatoes, Holiday recipes, turkey recipes, Thanksgiving

Of all the Thanksgiving Recipes I use how to make Sweet Potato Casserole is the one I’m asked for the most often. As Thanksgiving recipes go, this one is a favorite in our house. I found the sweet potato casserole recipe online some years ago. It has been made famous by the Grandview Lodge in North Carolina. This particular sweet potato casserole recipe has become synonymous with autumn in our house.

As far as Thanksgiving recipes go, this is the one must have ( aside from my Thanksgiving turkey recipe) that our family always wants me to bake. It also happens to be one of the side dish casseroles that people will ask me to bring to their assorted holiday functions. It is truly that good. I’ve even had family tell me that they would forgo the mashed potato recipes and Thanksgiving gravy for this sweet potato casserole.  It’s truly a Thanksgiving recipe favorite that your family will be asking for for years to come.

READ ALSO: Thanksgiving Recipes for the Perfect Holiday 

This is a bit of a Thanksgiving recipe secret so shhhh! It’s simple and delicious and people will think you were working in a hot kitchen all day. If you’re like me, you can even put it all together the night before ( to reduce the amount of kitchen time on Thanksgiving Day) and then just pop it in the oven for the last 45 minutes of your turkey baking time.

Best Thanksgiving Recipes : Sweet Potato Casserole

Ingredients –   How to make Sweet Potato Casserole

  • 3 cups sweet potatoes, baked and mashed
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup margarine or butter, melted
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup milk

Ingredients – Topping

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup chopped pecans

In a large mixing bowl, beat together the first 6 ingredients.

Pour into a lightly greased 9 x 13-inch or two 9 x 9-inch baking pans.

In a food processor fitted with a steel knife, combine ingredients for topping until crumbly or use a pastry blender to cut butter into brown sugar and flour until crumbly.

Mix in the chopped pecans.

Sprinkle topping mixture over the sweet potatoes.

At this point, the sweet potato casserole dish can be refrigerated (covered).

Thanksgiving recipes, How to make sweet potato casserole, sweet potato casserole, sweet potatoes, Holiday recipes, turkey recipes, Thanksgiving                                Photo: Pinch of  Yum

Bake uncovered in preheated 350-degree oven for 45 to 50 minutes until browned and bubbly.

READ ALSO: How to Make an Easy, Elegant Thanksgiving Tablescape

Let cool slightly before serving.

Enjoy with your other favorite Thanksgiving Recipes. This sweet potato casserole recipe will surely be a Thanksgiving recipe that you will come back to year after year.

Thanksgiving Recipes are the best. What’s your favorite sweet potato casserole recipe?

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Things to do in New Orleans to get pregnant, international house hotel, new orleans, travel new orleans, one time in new orleans, #OneTimeInNOLA, Jean Lafitte, Old Absinthe House, Bourbon Street, French Quarter, Garden District

I never thought of New Orleans as a romantic getaway but here I am writing this post Ten Things to Do in New Orleans to get Pregnant. After a well-timed road trip to Louisana, we got pregnant. I’m not saying New Orleans is the best travel destination to get pregnant but I’m not saying it’s not.

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, before children, the Big Guy and I went away for a long weekend to celebrate our 5th year wedding anniversary and we came back pregnant with our first child. Now, it wasn’t a babymoon. We weren’t trying to conceive but we weren’t not trying to conceive either. We were in the planning to plan to conceive phase of marriage.

READ ALSO: Life is what happens when You are Busy Making Plans

On that trip, we fell in love with New Orleans and even more in love with each other. New Orleans, literally, changed our lives forever. New Orleans made us parents so it is our top best travel destination to get pregnant.

Ten Things to Do in New Orleans to get Pregnant

Things to do in New Orleans to get pregnant, international house hotel, new orleans, travel new orleans, one time in new orleans, #OneTimeInNOLA

Stay at a sexy boutique hotel complete with rose petal baths and fertility blessings

We stayed at the International House Hotel to celebrate our 5th Wedding anniversary and it was amazing. Anthony Bourdain said, “The International House sets the standard for modern hotels with its creative design and meticulous attention to detail. ” And the Big Guy and I agree. It’s beautiful, sexy and mysterious and it makes you feel all those things when you are there. They say 1 in 8 New Orleaneans practice voodoo. All I know is that magic happens at the International House Hotel.

Things to do in New Orleans to get pregnant, international house hotel, new orleans, travel new orleans, one time in new orleans, #OneTimeInNOLA, cafe du monde, beignets

Indulge in Beignets

Warm, powdered sugar pastries are always delicious but the beignets at Cafe du Monde in New Orleans melt in your mouth. They taste heavenly and nothing will start your day off in a better mood than having one after sleeping in with your beloved.

Seriously, indulge in everything.

Things to do in New Orleans to get pregnant, international house hotel, new orleans, travel new orleans, one time in new orleans, #OneTimeInNOLA, cafe du monde, beignets, Pat O'Brien's, hurricane

Get a drink to go and wander the streets

Yes, you can do this is New Orleans because they operate under Napoleanic law and you can carry open containers as long as the container is plastic and the legal drinking age is 18-years-old. Go crazy, head to Pat O’Brien’s and get yourself a giant Hurricane and hit the streets.

Eat and drink your way through St. Claude Avenue

So much food and so little time. New Orleans has some of the best food you will ever eat and such a variety. You can stroll the city and taste your way around the world.

Things to do in New Orleans to get pregnant, international house hotel, new orleans, travel new orleans, one time in new orleans, #OneTimeInNOLA, Jean Lafitte, Old Absinthe House, Bourbon Street, French Quarter

Get a drink at Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop or the Old Absinthe House

Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop is the oldest bar in NOLA and was once the workshop of the famed pirate, Jean Lafitte. Another favorite of ours was the Old Absinthe House. If you’re in the French Quarter, you must stop. The history is palpable.

Jazz do it!

Take a jazz cruise on the Steamboat Natchez .If you like jazz, there is really nothing more romantic than taking a leisurely, night river cruise on the Mississippi. I can still remember the sound of the water beneath us as the jazz band plays in the background. The boat swaying, as you dance with your partner under the moonlight, may just be the most romantic thing you never knew that you were always missing.

Speaking of jazz, listen to live jazz music in Jackson Square. Maybe a little spontaneous dancing will happen. Expect the unexpected in NOLA. I never knew before this trip just how much jazz is baby making music.

While you’re at Jackson Square be sure to stop by St. Louis Cathedral. It’s breathtakingly beautiful and if the fertility statue you got from the voodoo priestess isn’t doing the trick, light a few candles in the Cathedral just for good measure.

 

Stroll through Lafayette Cemetery in the Garden District

I know it doesn’t sound romantic but strolling someplace so quiet and introspective, holding hands with your favorite person is so romantic. The Big Guy and I could have strolled that cemetery all day long.

Things to do in New Orleans to get pregnant, international house hotel, new orleans, travel new orleans, one time in new orleans, #OneTimeInNOLA, Jean Lafitte, Old Absinthe House, Bourbon Street, French Quarter, Garden District

Go on the garden district tour

The garden district is gorgeous and on a sunny day in May, it might just be the most beautiful place in the world. It kind of felt like walking around our own private island enveloped in flowers and trees as the sun peaked through overgrown willows and it’s shadows played upon our faces. I could feel myself falling deeper and deeper in love with the Big Guy.

Things to do in New Orleans to get pregnant, international house hotel, new orleans, travel new orleans, one time in new orleans, #OneTimeInNOLA, Jean Lafitte, Old Absinthe House, Bourbon Street, French Quarter, Garden District

Go to Bourbon street and get lit AF and let go of all of your inhibitions.

We hit the 5 for 1 beer at what used to be the red rhino. Then we stood on the balcony throwing beads to hotties. We got hit on by a couple of swingers, which only fueled our lust.  We refused their offer, drank some more and headed back to the hotel.

Things to do in New Orleans to get pregnant, international house hotel, new orleans, travel new orleans, one time in new orleans, #OneTimeInNOLA, Jean Lafitte, Old Absinthe House, Bourbon Street, French Quarter, Garden District, pizza

Eat the pizza.

Yep, Dominos pizza was being sold on the street by a vendor somewhere between Bourbon street and our hotel. We were ravenous. We bought a $5 pizza and ate a piece before a night that I can only call a blur of lovemaking and gymnastics from which I still daydream about 14 years later. Needless to say,  I now refer to Dominos as pregnancy pizza. I’m not saying the pizza had anything to do with the fact that we got pregnant but I’m not saying it didn’t either.

READ ALSO: What a Difference a Decade Makes

This is by no means a comprehensive list of things to do in New Orleans to get you pregnant or otherwise engaged, but it is my tongue in cheek list. Look, I know nothing can guarantee getting pregnant. My point is that we relaxed, stopped thinking about it and that’s when it happened. Infertility is not as easy as that but, for us, New Orleans changed our entire lives because we came back from that trip pregnant and, to us, New Orleans will always be the city of love and hope.

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I can’t wait to take our girls there someday so they see and experience the amazing, beautiful city that is New Orleans.

 

 

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Kitchen appliances you need, 5 Kitchen Appliances You Need to Get Healthy, tips to live longer, tips to get healthy

I’ve made a list of  5 kitchen appliances you need to get healthy. I am, once again, trying to get my groove back. Well, not so much my groove, per se, but I am trying to see my feet again. Not that I’m walking around waiting for my spot on My 600-lb to air or anything. No one is coming anytime soon to airlift me out of my house with the jaws of life (knock on wood) but I could definitely be in better shape.

Yes, I’ve been here before. My never-ending quest for perfection. But this time, it really is different. This has nothing to do with perfection and everything to do with just wanting to look and feel good. It really isn’t so much vanity as just wanting to buy off the rack and have things fit correctly.  And if I could get rid of this Mother’s apron belly and my bat wings, even better. Okay, maybe I am a little vain.

READ ALSO: The Weight of my World is a Number on the Scale

The thing is this time, I really don’t care what other people think. The Big Guy is finally on board with trying to lose some weight himself. Like, it was his idea and he’s committed to it. I’m not embarrassed by my body. I love it. It’s a little broken but mostly, it is really strong. What I do want is to feel comfortable in my own skin, to be healthy and to not have to consider whether or not my body will be a hindrance to me in certain activities. For example, I just decided to skip an activity in Cozumel that would include me wearing a wetsuit in public.

To make it easier to get healthy, I wanted some appliances that could contribute to a healthier way of eating. Appliances that make eating healthy less cumbersome. I also wanted to be able to eat things that were recognizable to me and tasted good, just healthier versions.

This is my list of 5 kitchen appliances you need to get healthy

Hamilton Beach Rice and Hot Cereal Cooker, 5 kitchen appliances you need to get healthy, kitchen appliances you need

Hamilton Beach Rice and Hot Cereal Cooker

I don’t know how it does it but this magical appliance cooks rice (yes, even brown rice and whole grains) and steams vegetables perfectly simultaneously.  I’m telling you, it is magic. I can do pretty well with white rice and Spanish rice on my own but brown rice and whole grain perfection has alluded me.

It’s also pretty fantastic at making overnight oatmeal for a healthy breakfast in the morning for the entire family. It’s about to get really cold here in the Midwest and there is nothing that beats hot cereal for breakfast. Plus, why not eliminate some of the hassles of trying to do all the things, plus wrangle children in the morning? Did I mention cooks rice perfectly?

Disclosure: I was provided a Rice and Hot Cereal Cooker by Hamilton Beach for review purposes but all opinions are my own.

Juicer

I have a Breville but there are many options out there. This just happens to be the one I have and I love it. I like to juice for breakfast. It fills me up and gives me an energy boost. You may be asking, why not just drink coffee? While coffee is delicious, it is acidic and I’m pretty sure that the last time I was in the ER with my gallbladder attack, they told me that I had an ulcer. I’m 100% certain in this statement, as I could not hear over my own sobbing and vomiting of all the bile. Either way, I drink coffee in small quantities.

Too much caffeine makes this insomniac manic. Which reminds me, I don’t recommend a juice fast and the reason I only do breakfast juicing is that when I’ve done a juice fast, I became extremely manic. It takes a lot of fruit and veggies to make a glass of juice. Fruit has a lot of natural sugars. For me, sugar is sugar. My mania knows no difference. But still, for a healthy and delicious morning pick me up, juice.

Ninja Smart Screen Kitchen System with FreshVac Technology

One smart base, three high-performance appliances: the 72 oz. FreshVac Pitcher
(64 oz. max liquid capacity), 20 oz. Single Serve FreshVac Cup, and 40 oz. Precision Processor. It makes getting your daily smoothies in easy and quick. Kids come home from school hangry, smoothies in minutes. This is one of my favorite appliance buys. It does so much.

Airfryer

The Big Guy has gone on the Mediterranean diet so we are trying to reduce frying and incorporate a healthier option. Whatever you can deep fry, you can air fry, it is safer and healthier like having a portable convection-type oven at your fingertips. The Bella Air Fryer is a multi-functional unit with traditional fryer functions can air fry French fries, onion rings and chicken nuggets. PLUS, apparently, you can also bake small cakes, cook small chickens and meat roasts and even bread. Really simple and convenient to use you can cook a 1/2 bag of frozen French fries in 15 minutes using no oil at all.

Food scale

I have the EatSmart Digital Nutrition Scale. It’s a Professional Food and Nutrient Calculator that Calculate calories, carbs, fiber, sodium, fats, vitamin k and six other nutrients from thousands of packaged and 999 whole foods. It’s lightweight and stores easily under my counter.

Weighs in grams (to nearest whole gram) and ounces (to nearest .1 ounce); Max weight 11 pounds. It’s so simple but so important. Once you get those portions under control, you’ll be amazed at how your weight begins to level off.

READ ALSO: Fat Girl Walking

These are my 5 kitchen appliances you need to get healthy. What can you not live without in your kitchen? Do you think that the appliances you have in your kitchen are as important as the food you eat?

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Milk Life, Milk, leche, breakfast, family

Disclosure: This moment of nostalgia sponsored by Milk Life Lo Que Nos Hace Fuertes. All memories and opinions of my grandfather/ abuelito are my own.

Growing up in a Latino family, you learn 2 things very early on; 1) family is everything and 2) food and drink are the ways you show love to your family. I love milk. My girls do too. It’s nutritious and delicious and something I feel good about serving them. We go through at least 3 gallons a week at my house. It’s sad to think that many kids don’t even get the recommended servings of milk especially since milk is such an integral part of a balanced nutritious meal plan to help children grow up strong. The taste of milk reminds me of home but my love of milk originates back to my childhood and fond memories of my abuelito (grandpa) Manuel in Mexico.

My abuelito, known fondly in his village as Don Manuel, was a humble, quiet man with a wisdom and kindness that exuded from his smile and his eyes. He was a hard worker all of his life. He ran our family ranch until he was in his 80’s when he was thrown from a wild stallion and broke his hip. That was my abuelito.

READ ALSO: My Father the Immigrant

He was someone you looked up to because he always did the right thing, even if the right thing was reading and taking time out of your busy day to respond to your young granddaughter’s letters. Even if those letters were her practicing her terrible Spanglish on you by hand writing you the most heinously, grammatically incorrect letters ever. He had patience and always made time to write me back, even when free-time was non-existent in his day.

I remember spending our summers in Etucuaro, the small village in Mexico that my father is from. My abuelito would be up and off to work the ranch and milk the cows before any of us were even awake. He’d be home with a jug full of fresh milk and eating his breakfast by the time I’d stumble into the kitchen and see him hunched over exhausted quietly eating his leche con pan.

Milk Life, Milk, leche, breakfast, family

What is leche con pan, you ask? It’s exactly what it sounds like bread with milk. It was a foreign concept to me. I was raised in Chicago, not on a farm. I was a kid, he was a very old man, even the first time I met him. Our worlds were very different. He had actually lived in Chicago and spoke English in the 1920’s. Our frames of reference were 60 years apart, but I knew if he liked it, it must have been good.

“If you really want to make a friend, go to someone’s house and eat with him… the people who give you their food give you their heart.” -Cesar Chavez

As a kid, I was all about milk and I loved pan dulce but what he was eating looked like bread rolls and milk. I wasn’t exactly begging him for a bite of his breakfast. Every morning, that I ever saw him, he would eat the same thing. No cereal. No oatmeal. No eggs and sausage. No breakfast burritos. Just kidding, I never saw a breakfast burrito ever in Mexico, unless you count chorizo and eggs on tortillas but no one calls them breakfast burritos. My point is that I thought maybe it was some kind of “old person” thing. I was a kid.

He’d offer me a bite and every day, I’d politely decline; walking away thinking he was really cheating himself and I knew better. Then one day, almost as a dare to myself, I said yes. His eyes lit up and he smiled at me approvingly. He took his spoon and lovingly scooped me out a bite of his breakfast.

READ ALSO: A Girl and her Grandpa

I opened my little kid mouth and happily accepted. I was expecting to be underwhelmed or maybe even want to spit it out. I mean, it was just bread and milk. But it wasn’t. It was a delicately, sweet warm roll (torn up into pieces) covered in sweet, thick fresh milk and it tasted like a hug from my abuelito. If the warmth of his eyes when he smiled at me had a flavor, it would have been leche con pan and ever since milk has been my most favorite thing to drink.

“Food is symbolic of love when words are inadequate.” -Alan D. Wolfelt

Sadly, my abuelito passed away when I was in college but all I need to do is close my eyes and I’m a little girl again; right back at his kitchen table in Mexico and he’s smiling at me with those gentle, kind eyes of his (the same ones my father has). Sharing his breakfast with me. He’s tanned from years of working the ranch in the hot sun. He’s smaller than he once was and he’s tired from decades of early mornings of milking cows to care for his family. But his heart is full of love for his little granddaughter who writes him those silly letters and he gives her the last bite if she wants it. This is love, this is family and, for me, this is milk.

Milk Life, Milk, leche, breakfast, family

I don’t make leche con pan for my girls because that was ours, his and mine. Honestly, I’ve never tried to replicate it but my girls are known to enjoy their own version of leche con pan with their own Grandpa Manny (my dad). I’ve loved watching them sit at the kitchen table where I grew up, drinking homemade champurrado (Mexican hot chocolate) and eating pan dulce with my own dad. Yes, sometimes, they even dunk their pan dulce in their champurrado. Seeing them there with my father always reminds me of those mornings in Mexico with my abuelito.

 


For more content and recipes with milk visit https://fuertesconleche.com/nutricion/dales-mas-leche and follow Siempre Leche on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.

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cooking with kids, french cuisine, brunch, homemade crepes, crepe recipe, breakfast recipe, dessert recipe

What reminds you of summer? For me, it’s togetherness, traveling, late nights under the stars, laughing until my heart felt like it would burst, bonfires, homemade ice cream, watermelon and barbecues. Sleepovers, the beach and homemade crepes. The crepe recipe reminds me of my inbetween years.

Every summer, I try to slow down and unplug. This is a conscious choice I made a few years ago when I felt everything start to spin out of control. The girls started school and pretty soon extracurriculars that were once a week for half an hour were every day for an hour, then two and now, time together is extracurricular.

What I mean is life started running us and I just wasn’t ready for that to happen yet. Something had to be done. I want to be present for these fleeting summers we have left with our children. They really do grow up so fast. One day, you are praying to God that they will be able to crawl and the next day, you are teaching them about how to put on make-up and listening to them tell you who they think is cute at school. Before I know it, they will be off to college, moving away and getting married. I need more hours, more days, more weeks…more moments together.

READ ALSO: Pret A Manger Grilled Ham and Cheese Recipe

So when summer comes along, I am ecstatic. My family loves to travel together. We love to eat together. Love going for bike rides and night swims.  Rushing into the surf and baking in the sun, we’ll take it. Connecting freckles and impromptu dance parties? We’ll take those too. We love bonfires and singing Cardi B songs at the top of our lungs while laughing so hard that our bellies hurt. I want more of all of that.

I don’t care how anybody else does their summers. I just hope they are happy doing it. For us, summer is when we slow down and just be. I confiscate the electronics. We stay up late. We sleep in. We visit family. We watch movies outside and count the stars. We celebrate the time to slow down and enjoy the journey. And we cook. As a Latina foodie mom, food is one of my love languages. Some of my fondest childhood memories involve food.

This summer the girls are a little older so I have been teaching them to cook some of their favorites. One thing we all love is crepes. I learned to make them when I was in 7th grade in home economics class. Remember that class? Anyways, they don’t offer anything like that in our school so I am taking it upon myself to teach the girls how to sew on buttons, cook some basics and favorites and the fine art of separating, folding and putting away laundry.

READ ALSO: The World’s Awesomest Homemade Granola Bar Recipe

One of the first things we cooked together this summer was crepes because, as you know, there is nothing better than homemade crepes for breakfast.

Recipe for homemade crepes

Prep Time: 10 mins Cook Time: 5 mins Total Time: 15 mins Makes about 15 crepes

This is a simple, easy recipe for crepes with strawberry and cream filling. We also make other variations with Nutella and bananas and lemon crepes with fresh blueberry filling, my husband’s favorite. I will share those recipes in the upcoming weeks.

Ingredients

Crepes:

  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoon raw sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vegetable oil

For the filling:

  • 2 cups sliced strawberries
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 pint heavy cream
  • 3 Tablespoons powdered sugar

Instructions

cooking with kids, french cuisine, brunch, homemade crepes, crepe recipe, breakfast recipe, dessert recipe

Crepes:

  1. Add eggs, milk, flour, salt, sugar, vanilla and oil to a bowl and mix on medium until smooth. The mixture will be runny.
  2. Refrigerate batter for 30 minutes.
  3. Heat a large non-stick skillet to medium heat. When skillet is hot, lightly grease it with butter.
  4. Hold the handle of the skillet and as you pour a few tablespoons of batter in, tilt the skillet around in a circular motion to allow the batter to evenly coat the bottom of the pan, in a thin layer.
  5. Cook for 30 seconds-1 minute until the edges of the crepe curls slightly and the bottom of the crepe is light golden brown. Flip to the other side and cook for another 30 seconds.
  6. (Adjust your heat between medium-medium high until your crepes are cooking in about 30 seconds on each side. Re-grease your pan every few crepes, as needed.
  7. Remove crepe to a plate. Add more crepes to the plate as you cook them, and cover the plate with tinfoil to keep them warm.

cooking with kids, french cuisine, brunch, homemade crepes, crepe recipe, breakfast recipe, dessert recipe

Filling:

  1. In a small bowl mix together the cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla until smooth.
  2. In another mixing bowl, beat the cream and powdered sugar on high speed until stiff peaks.
  3. Spoon most of the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture and fold in until smooth. Save a little bit of whipped cream for topping on the crepes.
  4. Spoon a thin layer of the filling into on a crepe. Add some fresh strawberries on top and then roll it up.
  5. Serve sprinkled with powdered sugar, extra strawberries and whipped cream, if desired.

cooking with kids, french cuisine, brunch, homemade crepes, crepe recipe, breakfast recipe, dessert recipe

Just a warning the filling is so good, you will want to eat it by itself. Try to resist the urge to do so because believe me, it is even more delicious inside of these homemade crepes!

Maybe it’s not a crepe recipe that reminds you of your childhood summers but what does?

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Pret a manger, grilled ham and cheese recipe, copycat recipe, Pret copycat recipe, lunch recipe

Last week, we were eating our way through Boston and falling in love with a grilled ham and cheese sandwich like no other. We love Boston. I love the rich history and the big city vibe. I love the friendly people and the smell of salt air and food trucks. In fact, there is nothing that I don’t love about Boston.  The girls love to eat and shop their way through Boston and the Big Guy, well, when his girls are happy; he’s happy.

Unfortunately, for the first three days of this year’s annual Boston trip, I was sick sick. Like running a fever, eat a bite of your dinner, cry sick. Thank God and the Boston Hyatt Regency for a comfortable bed and a beautiful view or none of us would have survived the ordeal.

But by day 3, come hell or high water, I’d promised the girls I’d make the 3-minute walk through the Hyatt Lobby that was connected to Macy’s, out the door and across the street to Primark. My girls are legit crazy for that place. Hey, I can’t blame them. I love a good bargain on cute clothes too.

However, in the time it took me to walk to Primark, I had gone sheet white and was covered in cold sweats. I was seriously going to pass out. Did I mention that Primark is 4 stories tall? The girls were in heaven. It really is a tween/ teen girls shopping mecca. I tried to last as long as they needed me to be upright but once I started to hear the blood rushing around my head, I knew it was time to get out and find some food.  At that point, I had consumed a total of maybe 1 bite of aforementioned sandwich, a granola bar and 3 cheez-its in 72 hours.

READ ALSO: The Ultimate Monte Cristo Recipe

We headed to Pret a Manger. It was our first time but hey, “ready to eat” to a woman about to pass out in public sounds like the best place to be. The girls could see that I was fading fast so we headed to the selection and made our choices; chicken noodle soup for me, a grilled ham and cheese for each girl, a couple of iced chai lattes for the girls and some fruit because mama was in desperate need of some vitamin C.

We paid, got the heck out of dodge before mama went timber and returned to our hotel room. No sooner had I relinquished 2/3 of my soup to the girls before I heard “oohs” and “ahhhs” explode from the other side of the room, like fireworks. I couldn’t imagine what basic option I had just purchased in my haste that was making my children lose their minds. It was the grilled ham and cheese, btw.

It’s hard for me to understand as ham generally turns my stomach inside out. In fact, the very thought of the smell of it makes me want to heave. They begged me to try a bite but seeing as this 1/3 of a cup of chicken noodle soup was the first thing I’d been able to keep down in 3 days, I graciously declined their offer.

READ ALSO: Red, White, and Blueberry Trifle

But they couldn’t stop talking about this Pret a Manger magically delicious grilled ham and cheese sandwich. In fact, they insisted on having it again that night for dinner. As we have no Pret a Manger anywhere near us, I made it might mission to figure out how to make this magical sandwich. I mean, dang, I want them to rave about my cooking like that.

I scoured the Internet and did some sleuthing and found the recipe for the Pret a Manger grilled ham and cheese sandwich. Well, everything except the secret sauce that is. But you know me, I figured that out too! So guess what my girls have been having for lunch every single day since we got home from vacation? Mommy’s Pret a Manger copycat grilled ham and cheese sandwich recipe. Made with love, by yours truly.  It’s so good that all the “oooohs” and “aaahhhhs” at my own kitchen counter convinced me to take a bite and guess what? It truly is magically delicious.

So if you are sick of your kids asking what’s for lunch and then replying that they don’t want “that” again or you’re just plain chicken nuggeted out, I’ve got the super-secret recipe for you. My gift from me to every mom on the planet.

Ingredients

2 slices of sourdough bread

1 slice of Vermont white cheddar cheese

1-2 slices of your favorite thick sliced ham (my girls love wildflower honey ham)

 

*shhhh secret sauce ingredients

1 tablespoon of mayonnaise

1-2 teaspoons of whole ground Dijon mustard (depending on your personal preference)

 

Directions:

Mix secret sauce ingredients together in a small bowl.

Pret a manger, grilled ham and cheese recipe, copycat recipe, Pret copycat recipe, lunch recipe

Heat small frying pan to medium heat

Assemble sandwich

Slather one piece of bread with the secret sauce

Pret a manger, grilled ham and cheese recipe, copycat recipe, Pret copycat recipe, lunch recipe

Top with ham and then cheddar.

Pret a manger, grilled ham and cheese recipe, copycat recipe, Pret copycat recipe, lunch recipe

Pret a manger, grilled ham and cheese recipe, copycat recipe, Pret copycat recipe, lunch recipe

Add top piece of sourdough.

Pret a manger, grilled ham and cheese recipe, copycat recipe, Pret copycat recipe, lunch recipe

Butter both sides of the sandwich.

Pret a manger, grilled ham and cheese recipe, copycat recipe, Pret copycat recipe, lunch recipe

When the pan is hot, place the sandwich in the pan.

Lower heat.

Cover sandwich with lid (to help melt cheese).

Pret a manger, grilled ham and cheese recipe, copycat recipe, Pret copycat recipe, lunch recipe

Toast to your liking.

Flip.

Repeat.

When cheese is melted, remove from heat.

Cut in half and serve warm.

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avocado, aguacates frescos, avocados, heart healthy fruit, american heart association

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Aguacates Frescos – Saborea Uno Hoy® but all opinions and love for the avocado are my own.

Have you ever eaten something and thought to yourself, this is amazing? This is how I have always felt about the avocado. I grew up with them in my kitchen constantly ripening, like most of you grew up with bananas. In a Mexican household, it is a staple.

I know the avocado fruit has gone mainstream lately with the rise in popularity of avocado toast and I get it.

I had never had avocado toast until the last couple of years. I’ve eaten it in guacamole, on tacos, out of the skin, in salads, with my eggs and on the side of just about everything but never on toast. Once I did, I questioned how I had gotten this far in life without putting my favorite fruit on sugar-free toast.  Who needs jam?

READ ALSO: Easy Recipe for Chicken Tacos with Avocado Cream Sauce

Did you know that while heart disease is the #1 killer for all Americans, Hispanics are typically at higher risk (according to the National Institutes of Health) because they are more likely to have risk factors such as high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, obesity, lack of physical activity, smoking and diabetes.

But just because we are predisposed to some of these risk factors that doesn’t mean we are destined to that fate. It means that we need to consult our doctors and be more diligent and aware of what we put into our bodies. Our dietary choices (what we choose to serve our family for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day) can help manage blood pressure and blood cholesterol and prevent type 2 diabetes. And if we reduce these risk factors, we help reduce the chances of developing heart disease for ourselves and our family.

Many Americans struggle with being overweight. It’s just the super-sized portion society we live in. But as we are all learning, sometimes less is more. When it comes to tackling obesity; good sources of dietary fiber like fresh avocados add bulk to the diet and can help you feel fuller faster, which can increase satiety (satisfaction) and help manage weight, reducing the need to eat bigger portions to feel full.

When it comes to tackling high blood pressure: sodium can increase blood pressure and so it is recommended that we limit intake. Lucky for us, avocados are sodium free and can be paired with just about any other nutritious food.

READ ALSO: Best Tech to Help You Get Healthy in the New Year

Like many of you, I believed for a very long time that all fat was bad. I was guilty of eating all the fat-free food but I was misinformed. Let go of outdated thinking that all fat is bad for you. The truth is there are two types of fats: saturated and unsaturated. The saturated “bad” fats should be avoided because eating saturated foods can cause cardiovascular disease whereas unsaturated “good” fats can have heart-healthy benefits. Avocados contribute naturally good fats to our diet, are a great substitute for foods high in bad fats and do not raise cholesterol levels.

avocado, aguacates frescos, avocados, heart healthy fruit, american heart association

Visit the Saborea Uno Hoy website for more information about the heart health benefits of fresh avocados. Avocados are such a versatile fruit. There is surely a recipe for everyone. Plus, I recommend checking out R.D. and Saborea Uno Hoy spokesperson Sylvia Meléndez Klinger’s 4 tips that will help keep your heart healthy, click here to read more!

One of my favorite recipes from the Saborea Uno Hoy site is Heart-Healthy Frozen Avocado Banana Paletas. My girls love ice cream and this frozen avocado banana paleta is not only creamy and delicious, it’s very kid-friendly.  Adults love them too. I know I do. They’re so tasty and you can feel good about feeding them to your family.

avocado, aguacates frescos, avocados, heart healthy fruit, american heart association

What’s your favorite way to enjoy aguacates frescos / fresh avocado in your home?

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Culvers, cheese curds, Wisconsin

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Culver’s. The opinions and text are all mine.

What is the one food you can’t live without? Seriously, if you were stranded on a deserted island for the rest of your life and had to eat one thing every day for eternity, what would it be? Wine excluded.

Personally, pizza and ice cream have always been at the top of my favorites list but if I’m being completely honest, it’s cheese. I love cheese on everything; vegetables, fruit, meat and especially by itself. I just believe that if you add cheese to anything, it’s an improvement.

When I was little and things were difficult, or I didn’t feel well, my mom always had the cure; grilled cheese. There was just something about warm ooey-gooey cheese inside that crispy, golden outer shell. Since then, cheese has had a special place in my heart.

Thanks to Culvers, I discovered a new way to enjoy cheese through cheese curds. Have you ever had cheese curds? I had never eaten cheese curds before and, honestly, had no idea what they even were. Obviously, it had something to do with cheese but what? I had no idea.

Culvers, cheese curds, Wisconsin

Let me explain. Culver’s Cheese Curds are snackable, bite-sized chunks of white and yellow Cheddar cheese, breaded and deep-fried for a warm, buttery crunch. They are out of this world and my family agrees; fried cheese is simple but absolutely delicious. I can’t believe that I’ve lived this long without ever trying cheese curds.

Culver’s cheese curds are made using farm fresh dairy from Wisconsin family farms. Everybody knows that Wisconsin has the best cheese. Every single cheese curd comes from La Grandier Hillside Dairy in Stanley, Wisconsin, a Culver’s partner for nearly 20 years so you consistently get that same high-quality taste.

Cheese curds come in two types of fresh cheese: white or yellow cheddar. They’re breaded with a signature blend of herbs and spices and transformed into pure buttery deliciousness.

They say finding a heart-shaped Cheese curd means you’ll have good luck! Also, fun menu hack: get a side of Cheese Curds and pile them in your butter burger for a taste that’s nothing short of magical. Just a little warm, cheese bursting surprise in your mouth to kick that burger up a notch.

They are so delicious that Culver’s has dedicated an entire day to celebrating them and ordained October 15th, National Cheese Curd Day to celebrate Culver’s Wisconsin- inspired Cheese Curds in all their ooey-gooey gloriousness.

Culvers, cheese curds, Wisconsin

Savoring your first Wisconsin cheese curd is an experience to remember and share, which is exactly what my family and I did today. Why not celebrate National Cheese Curd Day this October 15th by visiting Culvers for a little delicousness of your own?

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red, white, blueberry, trifle, fourth of july, dessert, recipe, Wayfair

Can you believe that the Fourth of July is right around the corner? When I think of the Fourth of July a few things come to mind; family, friends, the beach, a barbecue, fireworks, the red, white and blue of our American flag and a good dessert recipe like the red, white and blueberry trifle.

The Fourth of July is a day to celebrate all the freedoms that we have to pursue happiness and this beautiful country made up of so many diverse cultures and people all in search of the same thing, freedom from persecution. It really is a great country based on equal rights for all human beings.

Every year, our neighborhood has a huge block party that concludes with a huge fireworks display over our golf course. It’s something we look forward to every year and, in truth, it was a huge part of why we bought our home in this community. It’s part of our American dream.

Family and friends come over to celebrate the 4th of July because who can’t use more friends who feel like family? There’s always great food, good conversation and lots of love and laughter and no Fourth of July celebration would be complete without as much red, white and blue as possible.

red, white, blueberry, trifle, fourth of july, dessert, recipe, Wayfair

Enter our favorite Fourth of July dessert recipe the red, white and blueberry trifle.

The red, white and blueberry trifle is super simple to make and very refreshing to eat. And I don’t know about you but when I’m enjoying my favorite people in the sunshine, drinking sangria, I want something light, refreshing and delicious that screams, “Summer” and that is exactly what the red, white and blueberry trifle does. Plus, it is pretty to look at on your Fourth of July tablescape.

red, white, blueberry, trifle, fourth of july, dessert, recipe, Wayfair

Ingredients for the red, white and blueberry trifle ultimate Fourth of July dessert recipe

• Pound cake (11.5 oz), sliced (you can buy from the bakery or just get a frozen Sarah Lee. I promise it will all taste delicious.)
• 1 Box (6-serving size) vanilla instant pudding and pie filling mix
• 1-Teaspoon vanilla
• 2-Cups whole milk
• ½ Cup sour cream
• 1 Cup of homemade whipped cream or 8 oz. of thawed Cool Whip
• 1 lb. fresh strawberries with the stems removed, sliced
• 1 pint (2 cups) fresh blueberries

red, white, blueberry, trifle, fourth of july, dessert, recipe, Wayfair

Directions to make the red, white and blueberry Fourth of July dessert recipe

1. In a medium bowl, beat pudding mix, vanilla, milk and sour cream with electric mixer on medium speed until soft pudding forms. Cover; refrigerate.

red, white, blueberry, trifle, fourth of july, dessert, recipe, Wayfair
2. In a trifle bowl or large clear bowl, arrange 1 layer of sliced cake to cover the entire bottom of the bowl. Top with a layer of pudding, then a layer of whipped topping, and then a layer of strawberries. Repeat all layers except use blueberries. Continue with layers until bowl is full.

red, white, blueberry, trifle, fourth of july, dessert, recipe, Wayfair
3. Cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate until ready to serve.
The thing about this recipe is that not only is it simple and delicious, it’s beautiful and easy. You can host the perfect Fourth of July party and almost everything you need is on sale during the Wayfair Fourth of July Sale. Your guests will be asking you for the recipe, guaranteed because they will love it so much.

red, white, blueberry, trifle, fourth of july, dessert, recipe, Wayfair

What is your favorite Fourth of July recipe that you make every year? Have you ever made the red, white and blueberry trifle or something similar?

Please feel free to share links to your favorite Fourth of July recipes in the comments below. I’d love to check them out.

red, white, blueberry, trifle, fourth of july, dessert, recipe, Wayfair

Disclosure: This post was written as part of a sponsored campaign between Wayfair and myself. However, all opinions expressed in this post about the Fourth of July and the dessert recipe for the red, white and blueberry trifle are my own.

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Cotton Candy Cosmopolitan Recipe, cotton candy martini, cotton candy alcoholic drink recipes, cotton candy, cosmopolitan, recipe, cotton candy cosmopolitan recipe, cocktails, sponsored

Cotton Candy Cosmopolitan Recipe, cotton candy martini, cotton candy alcoholic drink recipes, cotton candy, cosmopolitan, recipe, cotton candy cosmopolitan recipe, cocktails, sponsored

You know how they say that necessity is the mother of invention, well, I just created a cotton candy cosmopolitan recipe. I’ve always associated the sticky sweet loveliness that is cotton candy with the carnivals of my youth but now, I associate it with my daughters’ adorable little faces happily enjoying the days of summer. Something so simple has given me an authentic appreciation for the sugary sweet air.

Cotton Candy is not longer about whether or not I love the sugary sweet delight but it’s about how it reminds me of my children and unadulterated happiness of youth. Cotton candy is like an old friend that takes my hand and comforts me. Cotton candy fills the room with melodious laughter and gargantuan sticky sweet smiles.

READ ALSO: Delicious  Summer Rum Chata Cocktail Recipe

I got myself a cotton candy machine so that we could have the happiness cotton candy brings any time of the year. Then I realized that I could make the sweet confection in just about any flavor I’d like simply by using common candies around the house; gummi bears, peppermints and my favorite, jolly ranchers.

On some days, I just need an adult version of that happiness that cotton candy brings so I thought why not make an adult beverage that incorporates that same sticky happiness.  Why not a cotton candy alcoholic drink recipe?

Cotton Candy Cosmopolitan Recipe, cotton candy martini, cotton candy alcoholic drink recipes, cotton candy, cosmopolitan, recipe, cotton candy cosmopolitan recipe, cocktails, sponsored

Here’s the Cotton Candy Cosmopolitan Recipe:

Ingredients

2 ounces of Reyka vodka

2 ounces of cranberry juice

1 ounce of pineapple juice

Cotton Candy (I made cherry jolly rancher flavor or you can make bubblegum flavor by using flossugar)

A Martini Glass

Cotton Candy Cosmopolitan Recipe, cotton candy martini, cotton candy alcoholic drink recipes, cotton candy, cosmopolitan, recipe, cotton candy cosmopolitan recipe, cocktails, sponsored

READ ALSO: Pina Colada Cupcake Recipe

Directions

  • Combine the vodka and juices over crushed ice in a Martini shaker. Shake vigorously for a slow count to 10, until well mixed and chilled.
  • Then take a heaping handful of cotton candy and place in martini glass. I used a margarita glass because I wanted to use a lot of cotton candy.
  • Slowly pour mixture directly over cotton candy.
  • The cotton candy will disappear and crystallize at the bottom of the martini glass.
  • Enjoy!

 Cotton Candy Cosmopolitan Recipe, cotton candy martini, cotton candy alcoholic drink recipes, cotton candy, cosmopolitan, recipe, cotton candy cosmopolitan recipe, cocktails, sponsored

This Cotton Candy Cosmopolitan Recipe is the perfect cocktail to enjoy on a warm spring evening while the kids chase fireflies.

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