Homemade Pico de Gallo Recipe

Fiesta time! This homemade Pico de Gallo recipe is a great addition to many meals. Serve with tacos, grilled meats, scrambled eggs, roasted potatoes, or with a big bag of tortilla chips. This time I added avocado and served it with our baked chicken fajitas. Let’s just say I doubled the recipe planning to have some left over, and it is all GONE! This is also a great healthy substitute to sauces that have high sodium and chemicals when your protein or veggies need that extra kick!

pico-done-half-view   pico-whole-tomatoes-and-jalapeno

INGREDIENTS

  • 3-4 roma tomatoes
  • 1-2 large onions
  • 1 medium jalapeño
  • 1-2 limes
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1-2 cups of roughly chopped cilantro

pico-all

Optional Add-Ins:

  • Diced avocado (as pictured)
  • Diced Mango
  • Black beans or pinto beans
  • Whole kernnel corn

Total Servings : Will make 2-3 cups

pico-vertical-tomato-and-jalapeno   pico-jalapeno-cut

STEPS

  1. Wash and dry all produce
  2. Dice tomatoes and onion into small chunks
  3. Slice jalapeños in half and scrape out seeds (I use a spoon to remove them)
  4. Finely dice jalapeños. You want hints of heat… not a fire.
  5. Wash your hands! If you accidentally touch your eyes, it’s game over.
  6. Roughly chop cilantro
  7. Combine all ingredients and squeeze fresh lime
  8. Sprinkle in salt and pepper
  9. Give it a quick stir until combined

*Store extra in an air-tight container in the fridge. Cut onion will absorb around toxins, so make sure you do not leave an open container out for extended periods of time before consuming. Will keep for 2-3 days in fridge. 

pico-done-horiztonal   pico-with-avocado

Pro Tips:

  • Allowing it to sit for an 1-2 hours before serving allows the flavors to blend together.
  • Adjust the amount of onion and jalapeño to fit your taste! You cannot go wrong, so feel free to make tweaks.
  • Play with the add-ins to customize the recipe to meet your needs! Adding black beans, pinto beans, and corn takes this recipe to a whole new level.
  • Double or triple the recipe and free your extras for a quick soup starter!

Gracias!

Jo

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Triple Chocolate Fudge Brownies

Let’s talk chocolate. This recipe for triple chocolate fudge brownies are always the perfect consistency. Crispy top, ooey gooey middle with the occasional crunch of a chocolate chip. SO GOOD.

Fun fact, my now husband (and then friend) wrote in my yearbook “Please keep making brownies…” because I was that girl. I have always loved cooking and baking, so I would bring my treats to school every Friday. (I knew what I was doing… wink, wink) Let’s just say I have had plenty of practice playing with new recipes, and this one is my main player. For me, brownies are about texture, and this recipe gives the perfect blend of chewy, chunky chocolatey goodness. It’s a MUST try!

brownie-vertical  brownie-zoomed-in

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup chocolate chips, melted
  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt (table salt works too)
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil (could substitute coconut oil) 
  • 2 tbs water
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chunks (I use these)

STEPS

  1. Preheat oven to 325F
  2. Slowly melt chocolate chips in a double boiler or microwave in a glass container for a minute or so and stir. If not melted, continue in 20 second increments until all chips have melted.
  3. In separate bowls, combine wet and dry ingredients. In one, sift flour, salt, baking soda. In another, mix eggs (slightly beaten), sugar, and oil.
  4. Next, add the water and vanilla to wet ingredients.
  5. Alternately, add the dry mixture and melted chocolate chips to the wet mixture while continuously stirring.
  6. Stir in whole chocolate chips and chocolate chunks. All ingredients should now be combined.
  7. Pour batter into a greased pan. (8×8 or 9×13 depending on desired thickness)
  8. Bake at 325F for 20-30 minutes depending on size of the pan. (Thicker brownies will need to bake longer)
  9. Toothpick should come out almost clean… these are fudgey!
  10. Let cool (15-20 minutes to set and firm) and get the vanilla bean ice cream out. They won’t last long!

brownie-horzotnal-close-up  brownie-horizontal

Pro Tips:

  • What kind of chocolate should I use? Semi-sweet or dark chocolate is my go-to. I would not recommend milk chocolate for brownies. Do not use baking chocolate which has little to no sugar content and does not provide the flavor that we want.
  • Where is the cocoa? I have found that melting semi-sweet chocolate chips in place of cocoa powder makes a richer brownie. Who doesn’t want that??
  • No butter? Oil in baked goods tends to give you a moister finished product than butter.
  • Glass or metal? I typically use glass, but either will work. Make sure they are well-greased! This is my favorite product to ensure nothing sticks. For easy clean up, line the pan with parchment paper.

Let me know how yours turn out! I want to hear all about it!

Jo

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Garlic Parmesan Beer Bread

If you could only smell my kitchen right now! A fresh loaf of garlic parmesan beer bread just came out of the oven, and it is a new level of delicious. Homemade bread and melted butter can completely turn my day around… BONUS: I have homemade tomato basil soup to dip it in. Happiness! My braided bread recipe is a simple one, and this one somehow has it beat on level of difficulty. It’s almost as easy as it seems. Beer. Bread. Done. It bakes to be dense and thick for a hearty, cheesy addition to any meal. You can change up the flavor combos to match the dinner menu. Or eat bread for dinner. It has been done here before.

bread-vertical-no-pan  beer  bread-vertical-sliced

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 cups self-rising flour (cannot be all-purpose) 
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 (12 ounce) can beer (I used KBC Pumpkin Ale for a sweeter twist)
  • 1/2 cup melted butter (1/4 cup works too)
  • 1 cup grated cheese
  •  2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tbs dried parsley flakes
  • 1-1/2 tsp onion powder

*Sprinkle some parsley flakes and cheese on top, too!

If you only have all-purpose flour on hand and cannot wait to make a grocery store trip (I get it… it really is that good)… follow these slight adjustments + the seasonings of your choice.

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • (12 ounce) can beer
  • 1/2 cup melted butter

Total Servings: (1) 9×5 loaf

bread-vertical-towel  bread-vertical

STEPS

  1. Preheat oven to 375F
  2. Sift flour… If you are like me, you see this step and skip it. Don’t. Sifting prevents the flour from compacting resulting in what I call “brick bread”. No one wants to eat tough, hard bread.
  3. Add in sugar, seasoning, and grated cheese (+additional ingredients if using all-purpose flour) 
  4. Add 12 oz. beer
  5. Stir until combined, but do not over store or beat. This is a no-no with any bread. Over-stirring also results in “brick bread”. Keep it light and fluffy.
  6. Coat the 9×5 loaf pan with butter and get it in the oven!
  7. Bake for 50 minutes.
  8. In the last 5-10 minutes pour melted butter over the top. This will give the top a crunchy texture. Finish baking the remaining 5-10 minutes.
  9. Let cool for about 10 minutes before slicing. Get the butter ready and enjoy!

bread-horizontal-no-pan-2   bread-horizontal-no-pan

If you are about to try this recipe, (which you should) I am so jealous that in about an hour you will be indulging in the buttery, cheesy goodness. It is smile-worthy stuff!

Jo

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Fruity Jumbo Ice Cubes

Check this out! Jumbo fruity ice cubes can be adapted to just about ANY drink! I typically use Ginger Ale or Sprite as my base liquid, but feel free to change it up and add a pop of color with any fruit juice. White wine, Ginger Ale, thinly sliced grapes, and mint leaves are also an impressive mix! I used this combination in my white wine spritzer. I am telling you… the options are limitless!

Why Do You NEED These?

  • Prevents diluting from “normal” ice cubes.
  • Visually appealing in any punch bowl or pitcher.
  • Adds flavor and naturally infuses your beverage.
  • Conversation starter! I always have at least one person comment on the jumbo ice cubes.
  • When melted, they leave vibrant, tasty fruit behind.

ice-all-three-veritcal  ice-and-grapefruit-horizontal

How Do I Make Them? It is SO simple!

  • Jumbo ice cube tray(s) *silicone works best
  • Drink of your choice (keep in mind alcohol alone will not freeze)
  • Fruit of your choice
  • Throw in a few drops of food coloring to have your drink change color as they melt!

Start by putting a few pieces of fruit in each cube, fill remaining space with the liquid of your choice, and pop them in the freezer. I used sliced grapefruit for this white wine berry spritzer recipe (as pictured) to add a pop of color to my punch bowl!

ice-horizontal  ice-punch-horizontal

Share your favorite combo! I would love to hear them. I was raised in a home with an open door policy to friends and family. We always had a yummy drink and appetizer ready to go within minutes… My mom is quite the hostess! These fruity ice cubes are easy to keep in the freezer for spur of the moment needs. I mean it, I have two trays in my freezer right now!

Jo

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How to Make Homemade Taco Seasoning

Making your own homemade taco seasoning will help cut costs that seem small, but really add up! I was guilty of buying pre-packaged seasonings without realizing how much more expensive it comes out to be over time. One packet… one dollar? Sounds good until you realize that only provided seasoning for one meal (and maybe not even that). Not to mention added artificial color and preservatives.. Yuck.

seasoning-offset

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 Tbsp. Chili Powder
  • 1/2 tsp. Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 tsp. Onion Powder
  • 1/3 tsp. Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1/4 tsp. Dried Oregano
  • 1 tsp. Paprika
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Ground Cumin
  • 1 tsp. Sea Salt
  • 1 tsp. Black Pepper

Total Servings: Makes about 2 tbs./ or enough to replace to pre-packaged 1.25oz packet from the store

seasoning-side

STEPS

  1. This is the easy part! Measure correct portions of each spice
  2. Mix and store in an airtight container

Feel free to customize this recipe to fit your preferred taste. I would suggest playing with seasonings other than salt before upping the sodium content! I use this custom blend with taco meat (turkey or beef), to season whole and refried beans, as a base with chicken broth for tortilla soup, and for my baked chicken fajita meat.

Happy Seasoning,

Jo

 

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Zesty Baked Chicken Fajitas 

Fajitas??! Count me in! This recipe is simple, healthy (baked!), and delicious. Juicy, zesty chicken  fajita meat and sizzling veggies easily prepared in the oven will make your Taco Tuesday delicious and simple. Who doesn’t love simplicity?? It’s a go-to recipe in our home!

fajita-with-lighter-meat

INGREDIENTS

  • 7-9 skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 red bell peppers
  • yellow bell pepper
  • orange bell pepper
  • 2 sweet yellow onions
  • 6 tbs butter (divided between veggies and onions) 
  • 3-4 tbs olive oil
  • taco seasoning – check out mine here! (for meat) 
  • salt and pepper (for veggies) 

fjjjjj  fjjj

STEPS

  1. Preheat oven to 350F
  2. Cut onion and bell pepper into even slices, set aside
  3. Slice chicken breasts into even strips (Make sure you keep things clean and separated to prevent cross contamination. Clean up with bleach. Chicken bacteria is scary.)
  4. In a large bowl, toss cut chicken with taco seasoning and 3-4tbs olive oil
  5. In two 9×13 pans, arrange chicken so that it is not overlapping for even baking
  6. In another 9×13 pan, spread sliced bell peppers. Throw a few pats of butter in the pan. It will melt down when baking. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  7. Bake bell peppers and chicken in the oven at 350F for 25-30 minutes (or until chicken internal temp is 165F). Stir veggies and chicken in pan(s) halfway through.
  8. On low to medium heat in a skillet, combine sliced onions and 3-4tbs butter. Continue stirring and allow to caramelize. If you need more butter, go for it. No one is judging here.
  9. Once the chicken and bell peppers are finished, serve with tortillas, tostada shells, on a taco salad, and more. Get creative!

fajitas

Pro Tips:

  • I usually have sour cream, homemade pico de gallo, salsa, queso, sliced jalapeños, and guacamole ready to go! Prep these items while your meat is in the oven.
  • Cutting raw meat can be… less than ideal. Wear disposable gloves to avoid the cold slimy feeling. If it doesn’t bother you, more power to ya!
  • I often use my kitchen scissors to cut the raw chicken in fajita strips. A knife works too, just make sure it is all sanitized when you are finished.

Adios!

Jo

 

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Whole Wheat Almond Butter Banana Pancakes

Pancakes are one of my comfort foods… breakfast, lunch or dinner! This recipe for whole wheat almond butter banana pancakes (whew, that’s a mouthful) is a healthy, tasty option for any time of day. Eat a tall stack guilt-free, and start your morning off with nutrient rich fuel to keep you full and going strong for hours. The best part is that they don’t even taste “healthy”! Win, win for everyone!

pancakes-horizontal-melted-buttter

INGREDIENTS

  • 1-1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1-1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg (or 2 egg whites), slightly beaten
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 2 tbs packed dark brown sugar (or light brown)
  • 1/4 cup of almond butter  (could substitute for 1/4 cup Greek yogurt)
  • Butter for the pan (and the pancakes!)

Optional Add-Ins:

  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans, walnuts, or almonds
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup fresh fruit- raspberries and blueberries are delicious with this recipe!
  • 1/4- 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats

Total Servings: 7-8 pancakes. This recipe can easily be doubled for a larger family.

pancakes-hortizontal-2

STEPS

  1. Start by mashing bananas, sugar, and vanilla
  2. Add almond butter, egg, milk and stir until thoroughly mixed
  3. In a separate container, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt
  4. Slowly add dry mixture to wet ingredients, stirring continuously until mixed. Do not over stir. It will make your pancakes dry and tough. No thanks…
  5. Set your stovetop to medium heat and coat the skillet with a thin layer of butter. If you are making pancakes for the family, go ahead and get out the griddle!
  6. Once warm, drop about 1/4 cup batter and cook until edges look firm and the center bubbles (about 1 minute). Flip and repeat on the other side for about another minute.

pancakes-vertical-with-syrup

Pro Tips:

  • Can use lactose milk substitute in this recipe (almond, soy, cashew, coconut)
  • Replace traditional syrup with coconut nectar… It really is tasty!

Bon Appétit!

Jo

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DIY Natural Body Scrub

Your skin is going to thank you when you try this DIY Natural Body Scrub. I am always making an effort to use quality, natural products and eliminate as many chemicals as possible. Have you looked at the back of your soap or lotion bottle on the ingredients label lately? Yikes… I created this recipe as a base that is easily manipulated to meet your needs! Feel free to tweak the ratio of ingredients to make it the consistency and scent of your choice!

co-body-scrub

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups extra virgin unrefined coconut oil
  • 1-1/2 cups white sugar
  • 3/4 cup sea salt (fine or coarse)
  • 15-20 drops of your favorite essential oil. I used peppermint for this batch.
  • Plastic container (be careful using glass if you keep this in the shower) 

Optional Add-Ins (for a more liquid consistency):

coconut-oil-ingredients co-peppermint-oil

STEPS

  1. Start with the coconut oil (solid at room temperature) and microwave it for about 10-15 seconds in a glass container enough to soften for mixing.
  2. Add essential oils of your choice, stir.
  3. Make sure the oil is not too warm before adding salt, sugar, and the optional add-ins. You do not want them to start to dissolve.
  4. Whip until thoroughly combined.
  5. Set aside to firm at room temperature.

co-set-up

Pro Tips:

  • Check out some background information on essential oils and their uses here.
  • Keep your feet extra soft by soaking in epsom before applying your DIY moisturizing scrub.
  • If you tend to have irritated skin, try lavender and lemon for a soothing, brightening combo!
  • Apply the scrub without water for a more abrasive exfoliant before rinsing.
  • I do not recommend this for the face if you have sensitive skin. I use this!

You are going to love this stuff!

Jo

 

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Dr. Pepper Chocolate Cake… Starting with a Box Mix!

My personal preference is baking from scratch, mostly because I genuinely enjoy it. But let’s be honest… saving time where you can is pure gold! This recipe for Dr. Pepper Chocolate Cake is adapted from a traditional Devil’s Food box mix, and does not disappoint. You can cut a few corners and still end up with a masterpiece. Yes, please!

bundt-full-view

INGREDIENTS

  • One box Devil’s Food Chocolate Cake mix
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1-1/4 cups Dr. Pepper (could substitute Coke)
  • 1-1/2 cups of semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • Powdered sugar to top it off
  • Bundt pan (could use metal or glass) 

Total Servings: About 8-10 slices

STEPS

  1. Preheat oven to 350F
  2. Combine cake mix and Dr. Pepper (It will bubble up and make a science experiment… It’s okay)
  3. Add in sour cream and oil, stir until combined or about one minute
  4. Add three eggs, slightly beaten
  5. Pour chocolate chips into the mix
  6. Thoroughly coat a bundt pan with non-stick spray. This brand is my go-to… never fails me!
  7. Evenly pour the cake batter into your pan (try to avoid accidental spills on the inside walls of the bundt pan)
  8. Bake at 350F for about 30 minutes. I usually set a timer for 25 to check, and go in 3-5 minute increments from there.
  9. Once completely baked, a toothpick should come out clean and the top should feel firm, but spongy.
  10. Let it sit and cool for 8-10 minutes before dumping it out. This is how I do it.  *Make sure you have the serving plate ready… it is difficult to transfer the cake without breaking later on.
  11. Once the cake has completely cooled (about 30 minutes or more), dust with powdered sugar to add to the ‘wow’ factor (a flour sifter or finely grated strainer works well). I have a major sweet tooth, and this cake is delicious even without a rich, heavy icing. If you would like to try a ganache drizzle, check out this post!

bundt-sliced-cake bundt-cut-cake

Pro Tips:

  • Do not skimp on your non-stick spray… There is nothing fun about a bundt cake with chunks missing. That is a sad, sad day . I’m telling you this one has never led me astray!
  • Do not skip a step and sprinkle powdered sugar when the cake is still warm. It will melt into the top and disappear. It’s HARD not to dig in, but waiting the extra few minutes is worthwhile when you get a result like this!

I serve this bad boy with a tall glass of milk and people are always coming back for seconds. I hope you love it as much as we do!

Jo

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White Wine Berry Spritzer Recipe

This white wine berry spritzer is the perfect blend of tart and sweet. It is always a crowd pleaser and compliments well with a large variety of meals. Your taste buds will thank you!!

INGREDIENTS

  • 36 ounces (3 cans) of a Canada Dry Ginger Ale (could substitute diet soda)
  • 2-3 cups white wine (Your preference.. I like a Moscato or Chardonnay!)
  • 3/4 cup ruby red grapefruit juice
  • 1 lemon, squeezed
  • Your choice of fruit! I chose blackberries, raspberries, thinly sliced lemon and lime, and green grapes this time (as pictured).
  •  Optional: Mint

Total Servings: About 7-8, 8 oz. servings

wine-horizontal-close-up

STEPS

  1. Wash all fruit
  2. Combine ginger ale, white wine, and grapefruit juice
  3. Add ice if desired, or ingredients can be chilled prior to serving *see pro tip
  4. Stir…. and done! SO simple, and just wait until you taste it!

wine-horizontal

Pro Tips:

  • Freeze your fruit to replace the ice OR freeze Ginger Ale in jumbo ice cube trays to keep things from getting watered down. Check out my DIY ice cubes for an example! They can be customized to the drink you are creating, and prevent dilution!
  • When hosting guests (or preparing something for the all important YOU!), presentation is important. I really believe things taste better when they look appetizing! Get out your fancy glasses and sip the night away!

Jo

 

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