Blackeye Peas Salsa

"Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated." - Confucius

Oh my god, guys, it's Thursday!!! Yes, I know, I'm stating the obvious, but if you're a TV junkie like I am, you know what that means... it's time to catch up on last night's American Horror Story season premiere via On Demand!!! You can't even begin to imagine how excited I am, since apart from the show starting, this means that my entire Fall lineup is about to start as well! There's Gotham, and Modern Family, and How To Get Away With Murder, etc, etc. I'll make sure to get all into it as the days go by. So, I have theories about this year's AHS theme. After going through all of the teasers and pictures, and after reading the description that Uverse provided on the Guide, I'm thinking the theme has to do with poltergeists, or people's nightmares, or maybe some Children of the Corn vibes. Regardless, I'm prepared to be spooked and just straight up freaked out. Since I was pressed for time tonight in making dinner after the gym, and since A and I are on a health kick lately, we wanted something filling without being overbearing, and we didn't really want something that required a fork and knife. After browsing the pantry, the fridge, and the cookbooks, I came across this quick and easy blackeye peas salsa (since I chose to not leave everything in the fridge overnight). It has great nutritional value while being tasty, fresh with a spicy kick, and easy to eat: you just have to use tortilla chips to scoop it up with no need for forks and big plates! This plate can be recreated as a pre-planned snack or as a party platter when having people over, since everyone can just serve their portions with chips all from a big bowl, without any fuss. Speaking of no fuss, once I finish this post, you best believe we'll be munching on this post-workout meal while watching the season premiere of AHS. To my fellow American Horror Story fans, cheers to a great season, and please, no spoilers! :)

Blackeye Peas Salsa
adapted from: New Cook Book 14th Edition by Better Homes and Gardens

*makes 2 cups*

15 1/2 oz canned blackeye peas, rinsed and drained
2 thinly sliced green onions
1/4 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 fresh jalapeño chile pepper, seeded and chopped
1/4 tsp pure ground black pepper
dash salt
1 tsp minced garlic
scooped tortilla chips

1) In a bowl combine blackeye peas, green onion, bell pepper, oil, vinegar, chile pepper, black pepper, salt, and garlic.
2) Cover and chill overnight.
3) Serve with tortilla chips.

Cucumber Cooler Smoothie

"In order to carry a positive action we must develop here a positive vision." - Dalai Lama

Maybe it's because the season is close to changing, or maybe it's because things just weren't that busy at work today, but holy cow, today was just one of those days that didn't want to end! I'd work and surf the web and text my friends, thinking I was occupying myself for hours, then when I'd check the clock, only two minutes had gone by. I was going through the same thing while being on the treaddesk at work (it's like a treadmill and a desk built into one). I would work and walk while trying not to look at the timer, hoping that time would fly by quickly, when in reality what felt like 30 minutes was only five. Is anyone else going through this? Today kind of felt like the day before a giant vacation, where your mind is racing a million miles a minute and you just get anxiously tired... but without the vacation tomorrow part. All I kept thinking about was upcoming plans and trips, and wedding plans, and pictures, and clothes, and fitness, and what I can pin (since I'm just now getting super into Pinterest), and American Horror Story, and yet time was going by so slow; it just wasn't funny. Luckily, my Dad, who recently started a smoothie and juices obsession/diet, texted me and asked me to find a fresh-tasting and natural juice that he could make as a snack without too many extras or sweeteners. I rushed home after work and tried this fresh-sounding recipe. Turns out - it was a hit with my Dad! He liked how light and refreshing it was which is perfect for him since he works in the sun a good portion of the day. It was beyond quick to make in my Nutribullet, but I bet it's even easier to make in a juicer. The fennel blends really well with the cucumber, while the asparagus rounds out all the flavors instead of letting the juice get a little too naturally sweet. It's a good choice for these last days of summer!

Cucumber Cooler Smoothie
adapted from: Smoothies! by Stella Murphy

*serves 1*

7 oz cucumber, chopped
4 oz fennel, outer part removed, cut into chunks
2 1/2 oz asparagus, trimmed and chopped
1/2 cup water

1) Juice the cucumber, fennel, and asparagus together.
2) Add the water - if necessary (I had to add it while my Dad didn't).
3) Pour into a glass over ice.

Rum Runner Pound Cake

"It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye." - Antoine De Saint-Exupery

Mondays, Mondays, oh glorious Mondays! Some people start the week with a case of the Monday blues, and sometimes I'm one of those, but not today. Why? Well, I'm still on a post-engagement high! That's right; this girl right here is engaged to A after over five years of dating :) It's actually been just about a month of being an engaged couple, and the lovebird phase is in full effect. We've even been hanging out more frequently with my folks over at the ranch! Like, yesterday, since A had been hankering for goat, my Dad managed to get some goat meat just so A can cook it - and cook it he did. A ended up making Curried Goat with Coconut Rice and fried plantains all by himself, which is a huge achievement for him since he's recently started learning how to cook things other than survival food lol. Now here's the cherry on top: to accompany the meal, A pre-planned and made this rum-packed cake that's fit to be enjoyed in this brutal summer weather (even though I'm definitely craving sweater weather to go with the pumpkin-everything that's in stores right now). It's very flavorful and moist although the kind-of cracked edges don't go with the description. The two kinds of vanilla and the molasses really bring out the rum flavor without making it seem like you're just eating alcohol, and I bet it can be revamped a bit for the holidays by adding nutmeg or even eggnog with cinnamon, oh or maybe even using a spiced rum in the Fall. Oh, the possibilities! For now though, it seems like it's time to snack on a leftover slice (or two) of this cake while watching tonight's new episode of Tres Veces Ana and enjoying these last few days of Summer. By the way, are any of my Spanish-speaking followers watching it along with me?

Rum Runner Pound Cake
adapted from: CakeLove: How to Bake Cakes from Scratch by Warren Brown

*yield: one 12-cup Bundt cake*

14 oz unbleached all purpose flour
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 tbsp all natural unmodified potato starch
1 tsp Madagascar Bourbon pure vanilla powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp baking soda
8 oz sour cream
3/4 cup ultra-pasteurized heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup añejo rum
1 tsp molasses
1 tsp "Crush" pure vanilla bean extract
8 oz sweet unsalted butter
20 oz extra fine granulated sugar
1/2 tbsp pure vanilla bean paste
4 large eggs
2 large egg yolks

1) Preheat the oven to 350F. Set the rack in the middle of the oven.
2) Set out the ingredients and equipment.
- Sift the flour directly into a bowl on a scale for accurate measuring.
- Measure the other dry ingredients into a separate mixing bowl, break up the dark brown sugar, add the flour, and whisk for 10 seconds to blend. Set aside.
- Measure the liquid ingredients into a separate bowl, whisk to combine, and set aside.
- Measure the butter and sugar into separate bowls and set aside.
- Crack the eggs and yolks into two separate bowls and set aside.
3) In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar on the lowest speed for 2 to 3 minutes.
4) Add the vanilla bean paste to the creaming butter and sugar.
5) With the mixer still on the lowest speed, add the eggs one at a time followed by the yolks, fully incorporating after each addition. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl.
6) Add the dry ingredient mixture alternately with the liquid mixture in 3 to 5 additions each, beginning and ending with the dry mixture. Move swiftly through this step to avoid overworking the batter. Don't wait for the dry or liquid mixtures to be fully incorporated before adding the next. This step should take a total of about 60 seconds.
7) Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl all the way down. Don't miss the clumps of ingredients hiding on the bottom of the bowl. Mix on medium speed for 15 to 20 seconds to develop the batter's structure.
8) Prepare the pan. Spray the pan well with a nonstick spray.
9) Fill the pan about three-quarters full by depositing the batter with the rubber spatula in small clumps around the prepared pan instead of by pouring it into one spot. Level the batter with the rubber spatula.
10) Bake for approximately 50 minutes.
11) Once the top of the cake doesn't jiggle in the center, test for doneness by inserting a bamboo skewer in the center of the cake. When the skewer shows just a touch of crumbs or comes out clean, the cake is done. The sheen on top may look liquid but this is normal and comes from the fat in the heavy cream. Remove the pan from the oven and place on a heat-resistant surface or wire rack.
12) Once the cake has cooled for 5 to 10 minutes, remove the cake by inverting the pan onto a flat surface. Allow it to cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes, before glazing.
13) Set the cake on a wire rack with wax or parchment paper underneath it to catch any dripping syrup. Combine 1/4 cup of Sugar Syrup (see below for the recipe) and 1/4 cup añejo rum in a small bowl. Apply the soaking syrup with a pastry brush until all of the syrup is absorbed.
14) Serve at room temperature either naked or with a dusting of confectioner's sugar.
15) Store under a cake dome at room temperature, or wrapped in plastic in the fridge for up to 1 week. To store longer, label, date, and store the plastic-wrapped cake in the freezer for up to 1 month.

Sugar Syrup

*yield: 1 1/2 cups*

16 oz extra fine granulated sugar
1 1/4 cups water

1) Combine the sugar and water in a 2-quart, heavy-bottomed saucepan and stir thoroughly.
2) Bring the mixture to a light summer over medium-high heat to dissolve the sugar.
3) Do not bring to a rolling boil.
4) Immediately remove the mixture from the heat and set aside to cool completely.
5) Label, date, and refrigerate in an airtight container.

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