Copycat Dole Whip!

Happy National Ice Cream Day! Let’s celebrate with one of my favorite treats! And while it’s technically not ice cream, it’s cold, creamy and refreshing. And a fairly decent replica of my absolute FAVORITE Disney Park treat. And lord knows I like a lot of Disney treats.

Now, for those who aren’t familiar, a Dole Whip is a pineapple soft serve treat. You can get them at Adventureland in Disneyland and The Magic Kingdom, as well as several other spots in Disney World. Some places you can get it swirled with vanilla ice cream, some places you can get it with a shot of coconut rum. My favorite way to have it is as a float. Pineapple soft serve with pineapple juice. It is sooooo refreshing after a hot day riding rollercoasters and getting your picture taken with Mickey.

And, as it turns out, it’s really easy to replicate it at home! So if getting to one of the parks isn’t in your foreseeable future, don’t be too sad, at least you can snack as if you were there.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups frozen pineapple chunks
  • 1/2 cup milk (any kind, I use almond)

Instructions

All you need to do is put your frozen pineapple chunks and milk into your food processor and turn it on. The hardest part is being patient while your food processor turns those frozen chunks into the perfect soft serve consistency, which usually takes me about five minutes and several breaks where I smush it down to get rid of all the chunks.

The only problem with these is that they don’t photograph well, but believe me, they taste yummy! And it’s a fairly healthy treat since it’s nothing but pineapple and milk. Let me know what you think!

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Easy Carbonara

Wow! It’s been a busy week! I had a birthday, a party, and a trip to the family cabin. It was fun, but not super conducive to writing, so it’s kind of nice to be back home, and back in the groove of things. And the week has given me so many things to write about! Yay!

Whenever we get to the cabin, I like to plan our meals up there. Getting to the grocery store is kind of a pain when we’re up there, as is trying to take lots of leftovers home with us, so the more I plan, the better it is. Of course, on our last night there I didn’t really have a plan for dinner besides “eat a lot so we don’t have to pack it tomorrow”.

Using what we had leftover from the week, I whipped up an easy and yummy carbonara. That’s why I love this pasta dish. It can be made from basically scraps, but it’s delicious and rather impressive. I used the last of the pack of bacon, a few eggs, and a quarter onion left from taco night, and voila! Pasta carbonara!

Ingredients

  • 1 LB pasta
  • 5 slices bacon, cut up
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 white onion, diced

Instructions

  1. Get your pasta going.
  2. Start frying your bacon in a large frying pan on medium high heat.
  3. While you’re waiting for your pasta to cook, and your bacon to crisp, whisk together your eggs and cheese in a large bowl and set aside.
  4. Dice your onion and add it to your bacon when the bacon is almost done cooking. Turn the heat down to medium to medium low heat so your onions don’t burn. I season my bacon and onion with pepper and garlic powder to give it some extra flavor. Feel free to do the same, or not. Up to you.
  5. When your bacon is crispy, and your onion translucent, remove it from the heat and drain the grease.
  6. When your pasta is finished cooking, drain the water and add the noodles to your bacon and onion. Mix until your noodles are evenly covered.
  7. Here’s the only slightly tricky part. Add the pasta to your egg and cheese mixture and stir quickly. You want to make sure to stir it right away so that you get a nice, creamy sauce and not scrambled eggs. But as far as tricky parts go, this one is pretty easy.
  8. You’re done! Garnish with a little extra cheese or pepper and serve with a nice salad, and you’ve got a yummy dinner and a cleaner fridge.

Piñatas: Days Two, Three, and Four

Alright, after a break, and many alcoholic drinks, I was ready to finish my piñatas. The next step, decorating the piñatas, was actually much more enjoyable and easier than the papier måché, for one simple reason; I had my helper back! My daughter, who was grossed out by the papier måché and pretty much abandoned me early on, was totally into helping with the next step. And thank goodness, because it was a fairly time intensive step. Quick reminder, I was using this video as a point of reference when making our piñatas.

We laid down newspaper on her floor, and got to work. We mixed white school glue with just a little bit of water until the glue was thin enough to paint with. Since we broke up this part instead of doing it all at once, I tended to pour way more glue than I needed for each session. A little glue goes a long way. I now have an old Tupperware container I need to throw away because there’s no way I’m getting the unused glue out of it. We took turns, one of us cutting the streamers and one of us gluing them on.

Just like in the video, we folded the streamer into 3 inch strips to give it a little more weight. We made them smaller with each new circle we made, as it was easier to work with. Cutting streamers was no joke. The day we finished decorating them, I was convinced I had early arthritis.

We started with my daughter’s piñata, with me cutting strips and her gluing them on. Before we started decorating, we made sure to use a box cutter to cut a whole so we could later put candy inside. We didn’t have any issues with her’s, but when I cut a hole in my piñata and the balloon popped, all of the party hats I had lovingly and carefully attached just so with papier måché, sunk into my piñata. I get extra mom points for not cursing at it while my daughter was next to me. I read the comments on the original video and found this was a pretty common occurrence. I reattached them with glue and tape until they seemed firmly in place. Here’s hoping they don’t fall off when I fill the piñata.

We finished the first side and then left it to dry. Maybe because we were so new at the process, but just one side took over an hour to complete with two people working on it. Even so, my daughter and I were having fun, and maybe halfway through we were seriously considering making more piñatas to sell at local farmer’s markets. Maybe we could, if she’s willing to help with the papier måché.

After decorating each side, it was time to cover up the area between the party hats. This was basically the same process as the main sides, only in reverse (you will go under your original layer) and with more shoving. When that was done, we cut long (twelve inches) strips of streamers and stapled them onto the ends of the party hats. And that was it! Totally easy. 😉

And while they’re not perfect, I’m pretty pleased with how they came out. They look good enough to shake a stick at, at least. My daughter is proud too. She was getting a little gloomy towards the end of making them, knowing that soon all of our hard work will be destroyed by those we love, but I’m hoping she’ll perk up once the candy is in there. After all, we did spring for the mix that included Blow Pops.

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Finished piñata and my husband’s arm

Now, in case you are wondering why we made two piñatas, let me tell you. My daughter’s piñata will be filled with candy (including Blow Pops) and will be for the kids at the party to take a whack at. The piñata I was in charge of will be for the adults. It will have yummy Godiva chocolates in it, and….. IMG_2623

Happy birthday to me!

Piñatas: Day One

My birthday is coming up in a few weeks so I decided to have a big party to celebrate. A couple weeks ago I was talking about it with my mom and brother and we all came up with some fun party ideas. After opening the second jug of margaritas, we had some pretty good ideas. My brother suggested a bouncy house, I thought piñatas would be fun, and my mom suggested we have alcohol.

I decided it would be even more fun to make the piñatas myself. I blame the margaritas. Here’s the thing with me and crafting, I always go in with more confidence than I probably should. I research online, watch a ten minute video, and convince myself that it’ll be easy, fun, and done within a day. I am almost always wrong.

But I found this video here, figured it would be a fun and easy project my eight year old daughter could help me with, and I set out to make piñatas.

First step; gathering supplies. I went to Party City to get some more streamers, party hats, and balloons. Word of advice; when buying Mylar balloons that you don’t want inflated with helium, be prepared to explain it at least three times. Another tip; buy a darker color balloon. I got white and it became a little difficult to see where I needed to add more papier-mâché because of the light color.

Second step; get everything ready. I cut up strips of newspaper (about eight inches long, one to two inches wide), prepared my flour mixture (I used two cups flour, two and a half cups water and one tablespoon salt), blew up the balloons (I didn’t have a balloon pump so I used a straw), and taped on the party hats. So far, easy peasy.

Third step; watch your world dissolve into chaos when you attempt papier-mâché for the first time in thirty years. Ok, I made several mistakes during this step. One, I tried doing it inside. I’m still cleaning up the mess. Two, I was banking on my daughter helping AND ENJOYING this step. This was not the case. As soon as her hands touched the paste mixture she started complaining how gross it was. Three, after completing the first side, I attempted to put the piñata in progress in a jar, the way she does in the video. This did not work at all for me. The piñata started to sink into the jar, wrinkling the part we had already completed. I ended up having my daughter just hold the piñata while I covered the other side. Given her feelings on how gross the papier-mâché was, this did not go well for either of us.

Step four; let the first layer dry. I had been planning on letting it dry in the jar, but that wasn’t going to work. And I definitely wasn’t going to have my daughter hold it the whole time (it can take up to six hours for each layer to dry), I was at a loss and super frustrated. Piñatas were proving to be much harder than all the diys I had found online. I felt lied to. Luckily my husband saved the day by making make shift drying racks out of old wire garden fencing. After the fact, I’m thinking over turned tomato cages would also work.

Step five; repeat steps three and four two or three more times. Whoever said you needed to let the layers dry for six hours, obviously wasn’t making piñatas in 100 degree New Mexican heat. Mine was dry and hard after an hour in the sun. However, the heat also caused the balloon to expand and my papier-mâché to crack. So we let them dry in the shade from then on.

The other layers were easier. I did them outside and I did them by myself. By the third layer on the second piñata however, I had lost all my shade. It was one in the afternoon and 103. I was dripping sweat. It was running into my eyes which stung so I kept alternating which eye I had open. It was not enjoyable. By the end of day one, I hated piñatas.

“Oh My God, I Actually Like Brussel Sprouts!” Recipe

Ok, so I’m trying to make healthier choices in my life. Exercise on a regular basis, eat better, etc. Surprisingly, one of the easiest changes I’ve made has been adding in lots and lots of green veggies. Turns out I’m not half bad at cooking veggies. At least, I’m not half bad after some serious trial and error.

The veggie I’m most proud of is the humble Brussel sprout. Because who knew they could taste so good? Also proud because I had to eat a lot of not so tasty Brussel sprouts before figuring out how to cook them the way I like them. My mom loves Brussel sprouts, and she throws a huge thing of whole sprouts in the oven, sprinkled with balsamic, salt and pepper and they taste great! When I tried to copy it they never cooked all the way through.

Then I tried making Brussel sprout chips after seeing them online. These too didn’t turn out for me. I don’t have the best knife skills so they cooked unevenly.

Undaunted, I decided to give up on the oven and the idea that my family will ever eat Brussel sprouts with me. So the following recipe is for a single serving.

Ingredients

  • 5-6 decent sized Brussel sprouts
  • olive oil
  • lemon juice
  • garlic salt
  • lemon pepper

Instructions

  1. Halve or quarter the Brussel sprouts depending on how big they are and how quickly you want them to cook
  2. Warm up a medium frying to medium high heat
  3. Throw in your sprouts with some olive oil (I use about 1 teaspoon) and lemon juice (about 1/4 teaspoon)
  4. Season them with garlic salt and lemon pepper.
  5. Cover them for about two minutes, or until the sprouts are bright green.
  6. Uncover and continue to cook until they are as crispy and brown as you like them.

**** I always break my sprouts apart while I cook them. Not only do they cook faster, but the little “leaves” of the sprouts turn into crispy little Brussel sprout chips.****

The acidity of the lemon juice really makes these pop. And getting them nice and crispy makes me pine less for potato chips. They are also super filling without a lot of calories. In conclusion; Brussel sprouts for the win!

 

 

 

The “Perfect” Week and Writer’s Block

Last week I challenged myself to accomplish two goal this week. The first being closing all my activity rings on my Apple Watch, and the second being blogging every day this week. They were relatively small goal, but I’m still proud to have accomplished both of them. But it got me thinking about writing and my relationship with writing.

I started writing when I was in third grade. I wrote and illustrated a series of books about a kingdom of mice, and while the books have been lost to time, I feel confident in saying they were epic. When I hit puberty I started using writing as an outlet for working through all of my normal adolescent frustrations. By the time I was in college my two main ways of coping were writing and killing off facsimiles of people on The Sims. Hey, it’s better than drugs.

The thing is, I’m not subtle. So to use writing as a coping mechanism meant that I had to give zero fucks about what people thought. I once wrote a play about things ending badly with a guy and named the villain after the guy. I had an acting teacher I didn’t get along with so one of my characters cut out the tongue of her acting teacher. A stranger once called me a bitch in a supermarket so I murdered him with a shopping cart…. in a play that I wrote.

I was really good at not giving a shit. It was fun, liberating, and made me feel like a badass. But all of that changed when I became a mom. Kids are usually a package deal. When I became a mom I also became a partner to my (now) husband, a daughter in law to my in laws, so many different things to different people. And quite suddenly I went from giving zero fucks to giving allllll the fucks.

I bit my tongue, I tried not to curse (which I really enjoy doing and believe I’m pretty good at), I tried to be so many things to so many people, that a part of me got lost in the shuffle. I worried about what people would think of me and how they would judge me. And I couldn’t write anymore.

I kept getting into my head and shutting myself down. I was worried. Worried that the people around me, who cared about me, would judge me. I mean, the idea of telling my Christian in laws that I was writing a feminist, vampire erotica sounds awful.

Even worse somehow, is that all those fucks I suddenly gave were for people I love, but who also annoy the shit out of me occasionally. My husband and I are incredibly lucky to have built an amazing support system for our family. But what do I do when that support system pisses me off? I can’t write about mowing them down with shopping carts, they are an amazing support system, they read everything I write.

The whole thing has made writing incredibly hard for the last eight years.

Which is why, tonight, I’m patting myself on the back for reaching my goal of a perfect week. I wanted to end the week with a post that’s a little more personal, a little more raw. Try to get back some of that catharsis writing used to provide. Honestly, it just feels good to write. About anything.

A Trip To Tinkertown

Summer is in full swing here in New Mexico. This is the first year I’m home with both kids during the summer and it’s….. a lot. Fun, yes. Fulfilling, mostly. But a lot. I thought I’d fill the days with productive house cleaning and fun DIY projects for the kids, but mostly there’s been a lot of video games and movies. There was one science project that involved water, clear nail polish and construction paper, but it didn’t really work out. So I think we were all grateful the other week when my husband suggested a quick afternoon at Tinkertown.

Tinkertown Museum is located in Sandia Park, about twenty minutes from Albuquerque, which means it’s 10 degrees cooler, which is very welcome in the 100 degree heat we’ve been having. It started as a traveling exhibit of wood-carved figures and dioramas, with antique toys mixed in here and there. It’s now a rambling museum of oddities. IMG_2172

I love bringing the kids here. It’s small enough that I don’t worry about them getting lost or separated, and there’s something new to discover every time we go. They love exploring here. Pushing buttons to bring the dioramas to life, pumping quarters into the old carnival machines, putting messages in bottles.

The outside of the museum is as fun as the inside. With hummingbirds diving at all the feeders, and a mini western town to wander through. In the gift shop there’s stick candy and fancy soaps. My daughter gets a grab bag for a couple dollars and my son gets a glider in the shape of a butterfly.

It’s always good to get out of the house, go somewhere. Somewhere a little cooler preferably. And off the beaten path. It was a relaxing afternoon. IMG_2202