Fresh Salsa, On Fire Awards, and Relief from the Heat

Yes, it’s a test. What do the three things listed in the title have in common?

Well, they’re all pretty hot topics, for one. Secondly, they all get a spot light in this post.

First of all I have to tell you, I am so excited that it is only 81 degrees outside today and it’s CLOUDY!!!! No rain yet, but clouds are promising. Please rain, please rain, please rain!

If you’re not blessed to be living in this section of the country they call the Dust Bowl , er…Oklahoma, you’ve probably heard about us in the news or on the weather channel. The last few weeks have been scorchingly, blisteringly hot. 113 degrees hot. Like, “who lives in that???” kind of hot.

I searched for an image in the internet of a thermometer just to show you what it looks like when the mercury reaches 113, but would you believe it? Not one thermometer went over 98 degrees! So, I had to Photoshop one for you… Look, it’s melting.

Don’t stare at the sun too long, it’s bad for your eyes.

So, this has made me wonder…if food is no longer considered raw after it’s heated above 105 degrees, does that mean our vegetables from the garden (the few we get anyway) are technically cooked?

If so, then forget the “fresh” part on salsa and let me share this sun-warmed recipe with you.

There is nothing like fresh (Gee, I can’t get away from that word!) ingredients melding together to make a lip-smacking zazzy salsa to dip a chip in…or two. My guys eat this stuff by the quart – not exaggerating here! Every year I think how smart it would be to can a bunch of salsa, but that’s before I see it disappearing at an alarming rate (Someone figured 3 inches in 10 minutes and that’s in a 8 cup measuring bowl.). Then I imagine working away over a pot of boiling water for hours on end to preserve oh, say, a dozen quarts of salsa only to have 1/6th of my work opened and devoured for dinner that night. Nope, not happening!

We like it better fresh anyway.

Garden Fresh Salsa

2 large tomatoes

1/4 onion

2 cloves garlic

handful cilantro

2 Anaheim peppers or one jalapeno

juice of half a lime

salt to taste

cumin to taste

Pulse all ingredients in a food processor until it reaches the desired consistency. Add salt and cumin to taste. Serve or refrigerate for up to 4 days.

I love cilantro!

Last, but not least, I’ve been nominated for the Blog On Fire Award by Tara over at Cookie Talk!

To be honest, I had no clue what the Blog on Fire Award even meant. At first I was wondering if perhaps the nominations are given to blogs who desperately need revamping – you know, like a refining fire cleanse – burn all the dross away. But after checking out other bloggers that have been awarded On Fire, I was almost convinced that was not the case.

Just to make sure, a quick search lead me to and the definition of this idiom…

On Fire – If you’re on fire, you’re doing really well at something.

Does anyone else feel as unfamiliar with the English language as I do? I think I’ll bookmark this site on using English and see if I can’t learn something.

Anyway, how cool is that?!! So, thanks to Cookie Talk for thinking I’m “doing really well at something”. :D

Another thing I learned today is that there are 2 rules to being nominated.
Number 1 -I have to tell you 8 things about myself. Lets see how many things I can think of that you may not know about…

  • I worked at a wild game processing company for 2 hunting seasons. Now all I have to do to round out my experience there is go hunting myself – and get something.
  • I used to be terribly scared of swimming – well, I was scared of what might be in the water. Still am actually, I just try not to think about it anymore.
  • I’ve hiked four 14,000 foot mountains in Colorado.
  • If I had to choose between living in the mountains or on the beach…I’d have a really hard time making up my mind.
  • I do not like doughnuts. Not even Krispy Kreme.
  • My dream job is to be a personal chef on a sailboat and travel the world.
  • I wish I could play guitar like Trace Bundy , or banjo like Bela Fleck. Dream big, right? Or practice hard. Dreaming is a lot easier. :D
  • Jesus Christ is my Savior, King, Hero, Role Model, Friend and Brother.

Number 2 – Share 8 blogs with you. These are a few of my favorites…

Hope everyone of you are having a fabulous summer with just the right amount of heat! Thanks for reading Stir it Up!


Dark Chocolate Cups with Nut Butter Filling and How NOT to Mess Them Up

Sometimes, just sometimes, things don’t materialize like I plan them. It happens in every area of life, you know?

Like getting braces practically the first time I walk into a dentist office.

Or watching the garden burn up from withering hot temperatures of 113 with no sun-ripened, picked-right-off-the-vine, heirloom tomatoes in sight.

Or turning 30 so soon!

Or making imitation Reese’s cups that don’t turn out. That one really gets me.

Somehow we get carried along as “life goes on” and one unplanned thing after another rises off the pages of our carefully written script morphing into something we never imagined. As annoying as these little (or sometimes huge!) edits can be, I know that they will make the story better – more readable. In the end, when the last page is turned and the cover softly closes, we will see why it all happened like it did, and how the tweaks and turns are what made the story one that just couldn’t be put down until it was over.

In other words, I trust the Editor. It doesn’t always make sense – in fact, it rarely makes sense, but I know the One Who really authors my life knows what He is doing. I’ll leave the pen with Him…

…and keep making messes in the kitchen.

So, I don’t know about you, but I love Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Well, I used to. That was before my taste buds started changing and milk chocolate started tasting like chocolate milk, or milk with sugar, or something like that.  A couple weeks ago a friend of mine turned me on to making my own chocolate nut butter treats using healthful ingredients. Rich dark chocolate, coconut oil, peanut butter and honey – that’s about it!

The first batch I made turned out great using a mixture of honey and maple syrup to sweeten. Unfortunately I wasn’t prepared to blog about it, so I made another batch about a week later. This time I used maple butter and honey for sweetener and butter instead of coconut oil. If you like gooey, caramel-y treats follow this route, but this wasn’t the result I wanted.

Nix that (well, eat that!) and try again! My Dad had mentioned trying an almond filling, so that was my next test.

“Well,” said Pooh, “what I like best…” and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn’t know what it was called.

I decided to use just honey to sweeten and I knew immediately something wasn’t right with the chocolate. If it hardened it’d be okay though…

The filling was 3 heaping T. almond butter, 1 T. coconut oil, 2 T. honey and 1 t. vanilla. Pour a heaping teaspoon of chocolate into foil or paper muffin liners (foil holds it’s shape best). Dollop a teaspoon of almond filling in the middle.

Drizzle with remaining chocolate and freeze.

Something was not right.

The chocolate was too soft. Not gooey, but not what I wanted either. And it made a mess on the wrapper!

Definitely not good.

Back to the drawing table, so to speak.

Chocolate  –

2 heaping T. coconut oil

6 heaping T. cocoa powder

1/3 c. maple syrup

Yes, this was it.

This time for the filling I used plain peanut butter as the almond butter was too mildly flavored in my opinion. You can add coconut oil, maple syrup and vanilla for more flavor, but I liked the sweet/salty combo of the peanut butter all by itself.

Now we’re talkin’!

I tried one more batch using butter instead of coconut oil. It worked fine, but the coconut oil is my favorite. I love how it melts in your mouth.

Besides, coconut oil is my “bestest” friend right now. I don’t know why one’s lips get so dry with braces, but there’s nothing like your upper lip sitting on top of a shelf of metal because it’s too dry to slide over it. Was that too much information? Sorry!

Yes, I got my braces on yesterday and so far it hasn’t been too bad. Should I be worried that it’s not as painful as the spacers? And I can chew real food – though I have to be very careful that I don’t bite wrong. My front teeth are very sensitive.

Here’s the end results recipe – if you haven’t had enough about chocolate and peanut butter already!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

Chocolate  –

2 heaping T. coconut oil

6 heaping T. cocoa powder

1/3 c. maple syrup

Filling –

plain natural peanut butter or

3 heaping T. peanut butter, or almond butter

1 T. coconut oil

1-2 T. maple syrup or honey (honey works fine in the filling part)

1 t. vanilla

Combine chocolate ingredients in sauce pan and warm just until melted and combined. Spoon a good teaspoon of chocolate sauce into 15 muffin liners. Place in freezer and chill 5 minutes while you combine the ingredients for the filling.

Remove from freezer and place a teaspoon of filling in the middle of chocolate base. Flatten a bit with the spoon and drizzle on remaining chocolate (about a teaspoon each). Freeze until hardened – about 20 minutes.