Monday, June 30, 2014

4th of July Recipes

Need some 4th of July recipe inspiration?  Here are a few ideas!




Grandma Marge’s Fruit Dessert (make it with blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries)









Happy Independence Day!
Have a fabulous and safe holiday!


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Strawberry Rhubarb Coffee Cake

Perfect Pairing:  Food processor


About five or six years ago (it could have been more) my mom called me one morning to ask if I was watching GMA.  They were doing a segment on a new fitness craze called Zumba.  It was a high energy cardio class that was mainly composed of Latin music and Latin dancing.  I was immediately intrigued.  I started in dance class when I was 3 years old, and continued to dance through high school on the dance team.  I was also a huge fan of Latin music and Latin dancing, so Zumba seemed like a great fit for me.  I did some research and found a Zumba class in Chicago and tried it out one Saturday morning. I was completely hooked.  It was such a great workout (you can burn up to 700 calories in a class) and it was truly fun. 

Through the years I visited many many many Zumba classes in Chicago.  When I say many, I mean in the 100s.  I kept trying new instructors until I found one that was a good fit, which meant I liked their music, energy, and style.  Even though there were free Zumba classes offered at my gym I was still paying a hefty amount to take classes from my favorite instructors.  Somewhere along the way I started thinking maybe I could be an instructor. 

Last November I became official.  I was a certified Zumba instructor!  I spent the next few months coming up with routines and practicing.  I practiced a lot in my living room, which was definitely not as fun as a class environment!  I finally worked up the nerve to apply at a gym in March. Within one week I had an audition, and later that day I was offered a teaching job teaching two classes a week!  I was going to start the following week!  I was pumped!  And terrified!

It was so surreal to walk into the class as the instructor and not the student.  After that first class I knew I had made the right decision, and all the hard work was totally worth it.  I loved it.  If you’re interested you can find out more about my classes at 


After my mom took one of my classes in Chicago (see above) her wheels started spinning on how to have me teach where she lives.  So she organized a class for some of our family friends on her dock.  One morning a few weeks ago we had 9 lovely ladies down on the dock at 8 AM for a Zumba class!  It was a blast.  It was definitely the best view I have ever had during a class!  I think there were a few boaters passing by that had a hard time not staring at this strange occurrence. 


I am pretty sure everyone had a great time, and I have received requests for another dock Zumba class later this summer.  To thank everyone for coming, and to reward them for the great workout, I made this Strawberry Rhubarb Coffee Cake. 


I followed this recipe.  The only changes I made were to use the food processor to make the crumb topping and the cake.  It was so much easier than cutting in the butter manually.  I would suggest using up the last of the season’s rhubarb with this recipe.  It was amazing.  Seriously. 

As long as we’re talking about rhubarb, you could also make this super simple, super yummy, Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp.  Why not have the perfect combination strawberry and rhubarb for breakfast (coffee cake) and dessert (crisp)!?


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Key Lime Pie with Pretzel Studded Crust and Coconut Whipped Cream

Perfect Pairing: Juicer and muscles


Key lime pie is the perfect summer dessert.  It is also one of the easiest pies to make.  I suppose you could complicate it by adding a meringue or fancy ice cream layer, but why mess with a good thing?

I have been making key lime pie for years, but this time I changed it up a bit by adding pretzels to the crust, and then topped it with coconut whipped cream instead of plain whipped cream.  Everyone loves a little salty/sweet action, so the pretzels were a great addition.  The base is still mainly graham cracker crumbs and the pretzels just add some texture and flavor contrast.


Obviously this is called KEY lime pie, but I discovered you can absolutely use regular limes.  Key limes are tiny and it would take you a very long time to get one cup of juice. 

If you can put your hands on one of these old school plastic juicers, snatch it up immediately!  I think I got this as a freebie in a bag of lemons years ago.  I have the fancy hinged model, but the free plastic juicer is my absolute favorite.  It gets every last bit of the lime juice.  This is important now since the price of limes is at an all-time high.


It also doesn’t hurt to have some muscles in the kitchen to help you squeeze the limes! 


Instead of topping this with regular whipped cream (which would still be amazingly delicious), I used coconut whipped cream.  I noticed this trend on Pinterest and decided to give it a try.  All you do is chill a can of coconut milk in the refrigerator overnight and then scoop off the hardened layer at the top and whip that with a little powdered sugar.  It has a very tame coconut flavor, but it totally adds to the tropical taste of the key lime pie.  Another tip is to chill your mixing bowl and beater before whipping the cream. 

I think I need to make this again. Soon.



Monday, June 9, 2014

Spring Roll Salad

Perfect Pairing:  Mandolin


I have been lucky enough to tag along with my parents to Cabo over the last few years.  That trip is really something to look forward to when you live in Chiberia.  Especially this year!  We take it easy on vacation and spend a lot of time enjoying the views, reading, swimming, fishing (dad only), walking on the beach, trying new restaurants, meeting new friends, kayaking, working out, etc.  It is exactly what vacation should be! 


The first few times we went we barely left our resort for some reason.  Then in the last couple of years we have been all about trying new restaurants.  Cabo has some fabulous fine dining venues and charming holes in the wall with great food.  If you have an upcoming trip to Cabo and want some restaurant recommendations, shoot me an email at  We keep notes on our favorites.

We love to sit outside and have the chef prepare the fish my dad caught that day.  This is just one of the charming spots that we go to every year.  Mom and I fell in love with the hanging basket lights that are all over Cabo, and actually brought some back with us this year.


We usually stick around the resort for lunch.  They had a new item on the menu this year called a Spring Roll Salad.  Basically it is a deconstructed spring roll in salad form served over lettuce.  It was the perfect poolside lunch.  Let’s be honest, anything with this view tastes pretty great.


I was determined to recreate the salad once I came home, and I think I came pretty close!


Thin rice noodles are combined with carrots, peppers, edamame, and fresh herbs (great time to use the herbs you are growing!), and then the whole thing is tossed in a light soy and sesame dressing.  I chose to not serve mine over lettuce, but you certainly could.  It is also great topped with grilled shrimp or chicken.

 photo 1

If you have a mandolin, this is the time to break it out!  I used it to slice strips of carrots which I then julienned.  I also used it for the pepper strips on a slightly wider setting.

 photo 2

I am excited to serve this at my next summer BBQ!  Such a change from the traditional summer fare.


Monday, June 2, 2014

Chocolate and Banana Overnight French Toast

Perfect Pairing:  Overnight softened butter


I must have a thing for overnight breakfast items.  Let me demonstrate.

Overnight Muesli (fun fact, I don’t think I have EVER spelled muesli correctly on the first attempt)



I love being able to get the prep work done the night before, and breakfast is ready for the oven the next morning.  Often, I will prepare breakfast while I am making dinner and enlist family and friends to do the cleanup.  It is a good system.

I needed to add one more overnight recipe to the breakfast lineup, Chocolate and Banana French Toast.  It is as good as it sounds.


It is made of layers of cinnamon raisin bread, bananas, chocolate chips, and is topped with an oatmeal streusel (also never get the spelling of that right on the first try).  How can you go wrong with those ingredients? 


You could easily swap out the cinnamon raisin bread for just cinnamon if you don’t like raisins in your breakfast.  I know that is pretty common.  I personally really liked it with the raisins.  You can top with syrup, but it hardly needs it.  Gilding the lily?

The oatmeal streusel is made with oatmeal, brown sugar, and softened butter.  It is really important for the butter to be soft when you mix this up.  I would suggest putting the butter on the counter the night before when you are prepping.  It will be the perfect consistency in the morning.  There have been many times I have tried to speed up the process by using the microwave, but I inevitably forget and end up with half melted, half softened butter.


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