Showing posts with label Recipe. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Recipe. Show all posts

Monday, July 23, 2012

My favorite 'Empty your Fridge' Avocado Summer Salad Recipe


I have had a life long obsession with Avocados, we called them 'aguacates' growing up and my grandmother (abuela) and great-grandmother paired them with many of the traditional Puerto Rican dishes that I grew up on and love. For us the traditional 'arroz con pollo' (chicken and rice) became anything but ordinary when paired with Black Beans and Avocados.

I am not as good as my Abuela and my mom are with picking ripe Avocados ready for that day, but thankfully my local grocer is and he always tells me which ones are ready!

Like me, my mom has a strong love of travel and adventure, and we'd spend our summer days anywhere but home, which meant when we got back home, tired from a day in the sun, no one wanted to cook, but eating out every single day of summer would have been budget breaking. One of my mom's favorite go to staples was a 'huge' summer salad, instead of as a side dish, it was so chock full of stuff that it became a main meal. Making it not only cost effective, (because she used what was in season), but also a much healthier meal than fast/processed foods. And we didn't have to have the hot oven or stove on during those scorching summer days.

To this day I still live on salads during the summer, and much like my mom's favorite salad idea, I've adapted it to make it an 'Empty Your Fridge' Avocado Summer Salad. There are certain staples I always buy from shopping trip to shopping trip so those have become staples in the salad that never change, but the protein changes, from chicken, to pork to shrimp depending on what's left over and already in my fridge.

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Empty Your Fridge Salad:


Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ - 1 Ripe Avocado diced
Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ - 1 Garden Tomato diced
Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ - 1 head of Romaine Lettuce, clean, dry and shredded
Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ - 1 box of organic mixed greens, clean, dry and shredded
Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ - 1/4 of a canister of walnuts (for a more asian flair add cashews and sesame seeds, especially if the protein is shrimp or chicken)
Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ - 2 cups of whatever proteins you have left over in your fridge, feel free to mix if you don't have a lot of any one particular thing, it could be chicken, pork, shrimp, tofu, etc.
Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ - Per your own taste (feel free to omit anything you do not like or are allergic to): diced onions, diced green peppers, diced/sliced or shaved carrots, finely chopped scallions, some garlic, diced celery, capers, diced olives
Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ - I always add a bit of cheese depending on what I have in the fridge also!


Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ - Mix all ingredients in a large bowl and toss evenly to mix all the ingredients thoroughly. Serve in individual bowls with dressing on the side. And if you don't have dressing on hand you can always mix your own with oil and vinegar or some balsamic!

*This could easily feed 2-4, just double up on the tomato if you are feeding more than two with this!


On my very first visit to Cancun Mexico, I visited a restaurant close to my hotel and they told me that Mexico alone has hundreds of varieties of Avocados, and I have vowed that I will try them ALL! I had Avocados with breakfast, lunch and dinner that trip and every subsequent visit since!

Fuerte and Hass varieties are probably the most common of the Mexican Avocados, there is also the Gwen (most often confused for Hass), Pinkerton, Reed and Zutano.

Healthy Recipe Substitution Tips:

Last summer I focused on some healthy recipe substitutions with Yogurt, here are some recipe substitution tips with Avocados:

Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ - Replace fatty dips with guacamole and served with BAKED Tortilla Chips for a healthy and equally tasty snack.

Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ - Make your smoothies creamier by adding Avocado

Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ -  Top your soups and stews with Diced Avocado in place of sour cream

Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ - Spread 2 Tbsp of mashed Avocado on your wheat toast instead of butter

Find other fun recipes on the Avocados from Mexico site in both Spanish and English! Get social with @guacgrl on twitter! And for my pinterest peeps, you can follow them on pinterest at:

And because you know I love great deals, here is a discount coupon you can use on your next shopping trip:

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FTC Disclosure: This sponsored post is brought to you by Avocados from Mexico via Latina Bloggers Connect. Additional information regarding Ascending Butterfly's disclosure policy can be found here.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

I was a Walmart Choice Steak Challenge Judge!

Welcome to my Not so Wordless Wednesday!

On May 22nd Walmart, Kingsford and Coca-Cola put me to the challenge, the Walmart Choice Steak Challenge as a Judge - Eight top chefs had a chance to compete and put their skills and meat grills to the test!

The challenge began at various Walmart's where shoppers tasted the steaks prepared by the chefs and and selected favorites, ultimately 8 chef finalists from cities including Tampa, Miami, Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, St. Louis, Nashville and Atlanta were selected to compete in New York City for best seared steak honors, (as well as a check for $5,000 for themselves and another check for their preferred charity), in a contest judged by champion pit master Chris Lilly and other food luminaries (including yours truly!).

The Chefs who competed for the title included:

Richard Chamberlain of Richard Chamberlain's Steak and Chop House of Dallas who prepared a Grilled Filet Mignon with Smoky Spice Rub and Grilled Salad with Tomato-Basil Vinaigrette. His Charity of Choice is Bridge Builders. His Grilling Tip:

"Flare ups are a big part of grilling. As a kid I used to help my dad avoid them by standing over the grill with a squirt gun." ~ Chef Richard Chamberlain

Ronald (Ronnie) Killen of Killen's Steakhouse of Houston who prepared Grilled Rib Eyes with Garlic Pepper Dry Rub and Grilled Corn with Herbed Butter. His Charity of Choice is Recipe for Success. His Grilling Tip:

"Be sure that when you take your steaks off the grill that you allow them to rest before cutting. This will ensure that all of the juices stay in." ~ Chef Ronald Killen

Eric Lackey of Flamestone American Grill in Tampa who prepared Grilled Rib Eye with Everglades Rub, Coca-Cola Balsamic Marinated Bermuda Onion and Grilled Beefsteak Tomato with Himalayan Pink Rock Salt Crust. (We talked about our mutual love of Himalayan Pink Rock Salt as I use it too!). His Charity of Choice is The Abilities Foundation. His Grilling Tip:

"The key is using Kingsford Charcoal, which you should light in chimneys prior to grilling. Also, it's important to set two stage fire zones for searing and cooking." ~ Chef Eric Lackey

David Larkworthy of 5 Seasons Brewing in Atlanta who prepared Cherry Cola Chili Smoked Rib Eye and Avocado Mashed Potatoes. His Charity of Choice: Alzheimer's Association. (By the way, in my opinion he is the chef with the most awesome smile, which I think my photo really does capture! I always say happy chefs impart extra love and flavor in the food!). His Grilling Tip:

"Don't be afraid of the grill. Grill anything and everything. Work with your fire and most imporantly, have fun!" ~ Chef David Larkworthy

Daniel Nemec of Kirby's Steakhouse in San Antonio who prepared Grilled Rib Eye with Coca-Cola Reduction and Grilled Potato Salad. His Charity of Choice is: The Huntington Disease Foundation. His Grilling Tip:

"Your coals need to be bright red with a thin white ash coating. You also need a clean grill grate that has been thoroughly oiled with canola oil (do not use olive oil - it will smoke too much and give a bitter flavor to whatever you're grilling). Once you have followed these steps you are ready to grill and enjoy!"

Note: I wasn't able to capture an individual shot of Chef Nemec, but I do have him in several group shots, refer to group shots after the individual chef profiles.

David Rook of Copia Restaurant & Wine Garden in St. Louis who prepared Grilled Rib Eyes with Horseradish Garlic Butter Sauce and Grilled Mixed Vegetable Salad. (This one definitely had a kick to it!) His Charity of Choice: The American Diabetes Association. His Grilling Tip:

"Always wait for the grill to reach a medium heat as opposed to a high heat to avoid charring your meat." ~ Chef David Rook

Erik Sierra of the Red Fish Grill in Miami who prepared Grilled Rib Eye with Red Wine Glaze and Char-grilled Vegetables with Arugala-Orange Pesto. (This one also had a very robust flavor! and I'm also fond of using Wine in my cooking!). His Charity of Choice: ASPCA. His Grilling Tip:

"I like my steak to be medium-rare so I recommend using a meat thermometer to obtain your preferred doneness." ~ Chef Erik Sierra

Willy Thomas of Park Cafe in Nashville who prepared Coffee Rubbed Steak with Grilled Onion and Bleu Cheese Dressing as well as Grilled Corn on the Cob with Lime Chipotle Mayonnaise. (The meat had a strong flavor with the Bleu Cheese, and the Lime Chipotle Mayo on the Grilled Corn on the Cob was fantastic!). His Charity of Choice: Vanderbilt University Department of Child Neurology Epilepsy Research.  His Grilling Tip:

"Like a good golfer, pull out a blade of grass and throw it up in the air to determine which way the wind is blowing so you don't get smoke in your face - works perfectly" (I have to admit this one made me smile, as I used to organize charity golf tournaments many moons ago!)

Note: I wasn't able to capture an individual shot of Chef Thomas, but I do have him in several group shots, refer to group shots after the individual chef profiles.

Left: Chef Daniel Nemec (see above in his profile for his quote) Very Right: Chef Willy Thomas (see above for his quote)

And the winner:

@2012 Photo Courtesy of Kingsford Charcoal

Congratulations to Chef Richard Chamberlain who won the challenge!

Winning Chef Richard Chamberlain Center and the Ascending Butterfly Team

As you can he was super personable, here is a photo of team Ascending Butterfly with the winning Chef! Congrats to the Chef and his charity of choice, Bridge Builders! You know Ascending Butterfly loves covering stories with HEART! 

Team Butterfly had a great time at the Walmart Steak Challenge, feel free to grab recipes and learn more about the great selection of Steaks Walmart has to offer, you can also get social with them on Facebook! Butterflies did you know that only 1 out of 5 steaks is good enough to be called Walmart Choice Premium Beef? Look for the seal my friends and don't accept anything less for your family! The quality of any cut of meat greatly determines the result of the flavor of the dish, so choose carefully butterfly!

Above: I just had to brag a bit about the group shot above, apparently a hot shot photographer on the scene who apparently felt he had priority over everyone taking a photo, told me quite loudly to MOVE out HIS way. And I said no, my shot is already set up, and when I did the chefs looked my way and smiled (I think a few were quite pleased with my *gumption*)

Did you grill some great Steaks over Memorial Day Weekend? Do you have a Father's Day BBQ planned?

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FTC Disclosure: This is NOT a sponsored post. This post is non-compensated. This is an event recap of a Walmart, Kingsford and Coca-Cola sponsored event, all opinions are 100% my own.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Oikos Greek Yogurt Review and Recipe too!

I wrote this post while participating in a blog tour conducted by Clever Girls on behalf of Dannon. I have been compensated for my time commitment to the program but my opinions are my own.

For more information and recipe ideas, visit or  I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity, as I do.

I didn't grow up eating Yogurt, and as a result hadn't really developed a taste for it. That was until BlogHer 2010 last year where I tried one that I really liked, and after that it created a monster! Earlier this  year I had the opportunity to attend a cooking class at the International Culinary Council in New York City where I learned to incorporate Yogurt into my favorite recipes, substituting more fattening items from the recipes with Yogurt instead. (You can read more about that experience HERE and you can also read the recipes I've posted under the 'healthify your summer with Fage' summer series).

Because I'm a bit of a 'late comer' to the joys of Yogurt, I find myself always trying new ones when I see them at the Supermarket. Especially now that I've begun incorporating them into recipes, I like trying out different yogurt brands in the same recipes to figure out which ones work best in which recipes.

I have lost 26 pounds so far this year by making small lifestyle changes including recipe substitutions. I've actually always been pretty good about NOT skipping breakfast before running out the door, but I have also included more Yogurt in the morning instead of those popular fast food egg, ham, and cheese biscuits and have noticed that I have more energy through the mornings with a much healthier and better for me way to get my protein!

I had a chance to try Stonyfield yogurt earlier this year when I took a Zumba Fitness Class with Degree for women and really liked it, so when I was recently was offered the opportunity to try out Dannon Oikos Greek Yogurt I jumped at the chance. But was a bit disappointed that John Stamos was not hand delivering it! (I think it would have tasted better if he delivered it to me directly! wink, wink) I thought I'd try using it in a recipe and was delighted to find a recipe for Tandoori Chicken under their Dannon Smart Swap Recipes page.

Tandoori Chicken Recipe:

  • 16 chicken tenderloins
  • 6 dried red chilis
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 4 teaspoons ground coriander seeds
  • Juice of 4 limes
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 4 tablespoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground clove
  • 4 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cups Stonyfield® Oikos® Greek Plain Yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons fresh cilantro, chopped
  1. Make 2-3 slashes in chicken pieces and place in a nonmetallic dish. Set aside.
  2. In a food processor, mix the red chilies, salt, pepper, lime juice, garlic, ginger, clove and chili powder.
  3. Transfer to a small skillet and heat over low heat until aromatic.
  4. Add the onion and cook over low heat. Stir in the yogurt and remove skillet from heat.
  5. Pour the mixture over the chicken.
  6. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for 4 hours or over night.
  7. Arrange the chicken on a broiler tray and cook under a preheated broiler or over a barbecue for 20 to 30 minutes, turning just once.
  8. Garnish with fresh cilantro.
Yields: 8 Servings

I forgot to snap a picture of this when it was done, although I may not have had a chance even if I had remembered because as soon as this came out the oven, everyone congregated in the kitchen quicker than ever! There was NONE of this left over!

And if the recipe above didn't sell  you, then I'm sure this will:

Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ  - Dannon® Oikos® Plain and Fruit on the Bottom contains 0% fat, while the Dannon® Oikos® traditional blended varieties contains about 3% fat. Both are an excellent source of protein, twice that of most regular lowfat yogurts.

Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ - Dannon® Oikos® 0% varieties contain active yogurt cultures and range from 80 calories (Plain) to 130 calories (Fruit on the Bottom) per 5.3 oz. cup.

Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ- Oikos is proud to support National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and by liking their page on Facebook they will donate funds for every like, they also offer other ways to help once you get there. You know how much Ascending Butterfly loves brands that give back!

I tried out the plain Dannon Oikos in the Tandoori Chicken recipe above and purchased the Key Lime flavor as well to try out the 'Greek Key Lime Pie Cake' recipe, but I haven't had a chance to make it yet, I will let you know how it comes out when I make it later in the week!

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FTC Disclosure: I wrote this post while participating in a blog tour conducted by Clever Girls on behalf of Dannon. I have been compensated for my time commitment to the program but my opinions are my own. And I really have lost 26 pounds via lifestyle changes this year!

Friday, July 8, 2011

This weekend I'm taking a trip to the 100 Acre Wood - And so can YOU!

I'll be attending the New York Screening of Winnie The Pooh this weekend, and I just can't wait! Winnie was one of my favorites, and I couldn't get enough of his adventures! Now I share that love with my younger niece and nephews.

Sometimes my nephews are much like Tigger, bouncy, adventurous, silly and fun!

While I can't take you all to the screening with me, I can leave you with some fun activities to try out with your little ones!

While I know it's a Tad early to be thinking Halloween, one of the activities that I thought was super cute, is a Winnie The Pooh Mask!

Winnie The Pooh Mask

No one says a Halloween costume has to be scary. Here's a cute disguise inspired by a honey of a bear who makes it his bees-ness to eat as much of the golden syrup as he can get his paws on. The sweetest part is how quick and easy this mask is to assemble.

Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ - Winnie the Pooh Mask template
Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ - Scissors
Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ - Thin cardboard
Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ - Cardstock or scrapbook paper - (two shades of golden yellow, black, and red)
Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ - Glue stick
Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ - Pencil
Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ - Paper hole punch
Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ - Craft knife
Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ - Thin black sewing elastic
Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ - Stapler


1. Print out the template (pages 3 and 4) and cut out the pieces to use as patterns. First, cut out a head from the thin cardboard and set it aside (you'll use this to back the mask later). From the lighter shade of golden yellow paper, cut a second head and a muzzle. Cut the face shadow and the inner ears pieces out of the second shade of golden yellow. Then cut out eyes, eyebrows, a nose, and a mouth from black paper and a tongue from red paper.

2. To create the mask, start by gluing the inner ears in place on the paper head. Next, glue on the face shadow, positioning the top of it about 1 1/2 inches from the top of the head. Attach the eyebrows right above the face shadow.

3. Next, glue the nose onto the muzzle. Then glue the muzzle in place so that the lower edges match up with the bottom of the head and the top overlaps the face shadow. Glue on the mouth, positioning it about 1 3/4 inches up from the chin, and then stick on the tongue.

4. Place (but do not glue) the eyes on the mask and lightly trace around them. Remove the eyes and use the craft knife to cut a hole through the head within the lines of each tracing. Don't make the holes as big as the eyes -- instead, leave a 1/8-inch border between the hole and the pencil line.

5. Now punch a hole in the center of each of the black paper eyes to create a pair of black rings, and glue them in place around the eyeholes in the mask. At this point, have your child hold the mask up to his face to make sure he can see well. If not, use the craft knife to make the eyeholes larger.
6. Place the mask atop the cardboard backing to mark where the eyeholes are. Then cut matching holes in the cardboard.

7. Cut a piece of black sewing elastic to a length that's just a bit longer than needed to fit around the back of your child's head. Knot the elastic ends and staple them to the sides of the mask backing.

8. Finally, glue the mask onto the backing, matching up all the edges, and it's ready to wear.

Not much the arts and crafts type but love to bake? Then you will definitely want to try out this fun recipe. Who doesn't want to pull something Pooh inspired out of the oven? (OK stop giggling over there, I see you! Yes YOU!)

Sweet Beehive Cake

Create some buzz at your little honey’s garden-, flower-, or bug-themed party with this simple cake and its cookie swarm.


Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ  - 8-inch round cake
Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ - 6-inch round cake
Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ - Half-sphere cake baked in a 2-cup ovenproof bowl
Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ - 3 ½ cups yellow frosting
Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ - 13 round cookies
Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ - 1 ½ cups light-blue frosting
Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ - 12 Twix Minis
Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ - 12 marshmallows
Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ - Chocolate frosting
Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ - Large yellow gumdrop


1. Use a long serrated knife to trim the tops of the round cakes flat, if needed. To get the smooth look, first stack the three cakes on a wire rack over a cookie sheet. Heat 3 cups of the yellow frosting in the microwave until it liquefies, about 20 seconds (remember microwave wattages vary so you may need to adjust this). Stir the frosting, then slowly pour it over the top of the cakes, covering them completely. Refrigerate the stack for about 30 minutes to harden the frosting.

2. Meanwhile, frost 12 of the cookies light blue and place a Twix in the center of each. Use scissors to cut the ends from the marshmallows and press on these ends, sticky side down, for wings.

3. Carefully transfer the cake to a platter. To add a door, trim one edge of the remaining cookie, cover both sides with chocolate frosting, then press it onto the hive. Spoon the rest of the yellow frosting into a resealable sandwich bag, snip off a corner, and pipe markings onto the bees and hive. Top the hive with the gumdrop and arrange the bees around it. Serves 12.

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FTC Disclosure: This is a NON-Sponsored Post. Permissions have been granted by @Disney to share the craft, recipe and photos with my readers!