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This is something I do a few times a year and it saves us a couple trips and some money to Starbucks. Try it…its so worth it!

Black Martha

Coffee in general is not cheap. I’m sure many of you have gone to your favorite coffee joint and have spent $4 or more dollars on a nasty cup of so-called-coffee and it really ruined your day. I know I have…especially on iced coffee…and I’m not a nice person when folks don’t get my drink right (especially Dunken Doughnuts)!

So you could only imagine how happy I was when one of my favorite bloggers wrote a post on how to make iced coffee concentrate. Not a lot of ingredients or fancy tools are needed. Just some really good strong ground coffee, cold water, large bowl and some patients ( you have to let it sit for a while).

Hours later…you have this glorious drink…and it taste good…really good.

Surprisingly…it doesn’t get watered down, has a smooth taste down to the last sip and doesn’t send your tummy into gurgle mode…

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Not to long ago I went out with some friends to celebrate my birthday and we went to a great tapas restaurant in Old Town Alexandria, VA called La Tasca. They have great sangria, good food and some BOMB empanadas.

Ever since I went there and enjoyed some fried beef empanadas, that’s all I’ve been craving for the last couple weeks.

So I made some. Instead of frying them…I baked them…and they were tasty…not La Tasca tasty…but good enough to make again.

The only thing I didn’t do was take enough step by step pictures. So I apologize…but they are so easy to make and you can add pretty much whatever you want to these things.

…and yes you can fry them…if you are not concerned about your waistline (frying instructions are at the bottom).

Baked Beef Empanadas
slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen
makes about 12

3/4-1 pound of ground beef chuck
1/2 medium onion finely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
Salt and pepper to taste or use some season salt
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped pimiento-stuffed olives (optional)
1 1/2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese
1 package frozen empanada pastry disks, thawed

1 egg beaten with 2 teaspoons water

Preheat oven to 400’F degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or Silpat silicone mat.

Over medium heat, cook onion in olive oil in a heavy medium skillet , stirring frequently, until softened. Add garlic, cumin and oregano and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Stir in beef and cook, breaking up lumps with a fork, until no longer pink, about 4 minutes. Add the olives, cheddar cheese, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and stir for a few minutes until well combined. Turn off heat and set aside.

Lay a large sheet of plastic wrap on a dampened work surface (to help keep plastic in place), then take out an empanada disk one at a time,  lay it on the plastic wrap. Place 3 tablespoons meat mixture on disk. Moisten edges of disk with water and fold over to form a semicircle, then crimp with a fork and place on baking sheet. Repeat the same method until you have no more empanda disks.

Lightly brush empanadas with some of egg wash and bake in upper and lower thirds of oven, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until golden, about 25 minutes. Transfer empanadas to a rack to cool at least 5 minutes.

If you want to fry them….

Preheat oven toe 200’F degrees.

Heat 4 cups of vegetable oil in a deep 12-inch skillet over medium heat until it registers 360°F on thermometer. Fry empanadas, 2 or 3 at a time, turning once, until crisp and golden, 4 to 6 minutes per batch.

Transfer to a shallow baking pan and keep warm in oven. Return oil to 360°F between batches.




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I’ve had my slow cooker for about five years and I’m not sure why I didn’t start using this thing a lot sooner, cause its really one of the best kitchen appliances I own (thanks mom!).

So if you have one and all its doing is taking up space, may I suggest you blow the dust off of it and make this recipe I’m about to share for Beef Stroganoff?

This recipe takes no time to prepare, you can do a gazillion other things while it cooks and once its done you have a delicious meal on the table for your family to enjoy!

Now go get your slow cooker and show it some love!

Beef Stroganoff
adapted from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

2-3 pounds stew meat
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon season salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 medium yellow or sweet onion, diced
¼ teaspoon garlic salt
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 ½ cups beef broth
1 tablespoon ketchup
1/3 cup flour
6-7 tablespoons apple juice or water ( I used apple cider, worked fine)
4-8 ounces sliced mushrooms (optional)
1/2 cup light or regular sour cream

Place the stew meat, salt, season salt, pepper, mushrooms and onion in the slow cooker. Stir to distribute the seasonings, mushrooms and onion. Add the garlic salt, Worcestershire sauce, beef broth and ketchup give it a good whisk making sure all ingredients are combined.

Cook for 7-9 hours on low or 4-5 hours on high.

About 30 minutes before serving, combine the flour and apple juice or water  in a small bowl, whisking vigorously to combine well. The mixture should be thick but still pourable so add a tablespoon of apple juice or water at a time to thin, if needed. Pour the flour mixture into the slow cooker, whisking quickly to mix in with the stew meat and juices and to avoid lumps. Cook on high for 30 minutes. Stir in ½ cup sour cream right before serving.

Serve over pasta, rice or baked potatoes.

*The leftovers of the stroganoff can be frozen. Store the leftovers in a freezer-safe container and then thaw in the refrigerator (usually takes about a day) and reheat over medium-low heat in a saucepan on the stove.

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Happy Halloween

Try not to get a tummy ache…

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Baby food is mad expensive these days. When Coolkid and BamBam where whee little ones I fed them  baby food out of a jar, cause the thought of me making it myself seemed too time consuming. But now that I stay at home, I have made some time to try and make baby food for my Lil Muffin’.

After doing some research, baby food is not hard to make at all. Its super duper easy. The only thing I don’t care for is having to peel and chop fruit…but if that is what is going to save us some money…then I can suck it up…for now at least.

So the other day I made some carrots for my little guy. Peeled, chopped, steamed and pureed them.

Four easy steps and my baby enjoyed some delicious organic carrots.

If you have little ones that are just starting to eat solid food,  try and make some food for them. It really doesn’t take hours to make and your baby will love you for it.

Baby Food Carrots
(6 – 8 months)
adapted from wholesomebabyfood.com


1 pound of fresh carrots (you may also use frozen)


1. Peel carrots and cut into small chunks

2. Place chunks into a steamer pan with just enough water visible through the steamer basket

3. Steam until tender

4. Do not reserve any left over water to use for thinning out the carrots if baby is under 8 months old as Nitrates may seep into the cooking water

5. You can also boil the carrots if you do not have a steamer. Just add enough water to cover the carrots and boil until soft and tender. About 30 minutes.

5. Place into your choice of appliance for pureeing and begin pureeing.

6. Add water as necessary to achieve a smooth, thin consistency.

7. If you plan on giving these to a 4 month old, make sure to push the carrot puree through a fine mesh strainer to get out any chunks.

For helpful tips on how to store your homemade baby food go here.

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