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Bring the poke bowl trend to your kitchen by making these Cucumber Zoodle Tuna Poke Bowls. Marinated fresh tuna, bright veggies and a delicious spicy mayo top thick cucumber noodles for a perfect light lunch or dinner.

Tuna poke bowls are all the rage, and I’m jumping on that bandwagon. Give me some fresh seafood, pile it on a bed of rice, and then top it off with fresh veggies, fruit, something pickled, and something spicy? Yep, I’m in.

Only, in my neck of the woods, there aren’t a ton of poke places. Not nearly enough to satisfy my poke cravings.  So, I’m makin’ it at home.

The beauty of it is, I get to choose what I want, how much of it, and the quality of the ingredients. Meaning, I’m not skimping on the tuna, I’m cutting out to bed of rice and replacing it with veggies. Plus, I’m using lots o’ fresh ingredients. Even more fun? I’ve discovered cucumber zoodles, and they are FABULOUS as a poke bowl base. (If you don’t have a zoodle maker, try this one.  I use it all the time!)

Tips for Making Cucumber Zoodle Tuna Poke Bowls

To get the perfect dice for the tuna poke bowls, freeze tuna steaks for 30-45 minutes prior to slicing.  This will make the fish easy to cut in smaller pieces without smooshing (if it’s not a word it oughta be) the tuna.

Don’t allow the tuna to sit in the marinade for longer than 30 minutes.  The lime juice can “cook” the tuna and make the texture mushy.  No one wants mushy tuna poke bowls!

If you have time earlier in the day, make the mango-cabbage slaw.  It’ll allow the flavors to meld!

Cucumber zoodles are so much fun to make and when fresh, have the perfect crunch.  However, prepare them last – just before assembling and enjoying your tuna poke bowls.  Otherwise, they will release a lot of liquid, causing the ingredients to get soggy.

Mix and match!  Tuna Poke Bowls are great for using up what’s in your kitchen and adding your favorite toppings!

Obsession-Worthy Cucumber Zoodle Tuna Poke Bowls
Bring the poke bowl trend to your kitchen by making these Cucumber Zoodle Tuna Poke Bowls. Marinated fresh tuna, bright veggies and a delicious spicy mayo top thick cucumber noodles for a perfect light lunch or dinner.
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Ingredients For the Tuna:
  • 1 lb. sushi grade yellowfin tuna
  • 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 2 tsp. sesame oil
  • 2 tsp. sriracha
  • 1 tsp. fish sauce
  • 1 tsp. rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • 1 lime, juiced
For the Mango-Cabbage Slaw:
  • 1 mango, peeled, cored and diced
  • 1 jalapeno, sliced (remove core and seeds to decrease heat)
  • 1/2 small red onion, diced
  • 2 cups shredded cabbage (I use the cole slaw shreds)
  • salt to taste
For the Spicy Mayo
  • 1/2 cup mayo
  • 2 Tbsp. sriracha (or more to taste)
  • 1 lime, juiced
Additional Bowl Toppings:
  • 1/2 English cucumber per person
  • more diced mango
  • more jalapeno slices
  • lime wedges
Instructions
  1. Freeze tuna for 30-45 minutes. This will make it easier to dice.
  2. Meanwhile, combine all slaw ingredients and chill until ready to use.
  3. Remove tuna from the freezer once chilled and use a sharp knife to cut tuna into 1/2 inch chunks. Mix tuna ingredients in a medium bowl. Add the diced tuna and allow to sit a room temperature for 10 minutes.
  4. Use the widest setting on your spiralizer to cut cucumber noodles.
  5. Assemble your bowls using your desired toppings and drizzle with spicy mayo. Enjoy!
© Katie Harding, Forks and Folly
Category: Main Meal

Looking for more zoodle recipes?  I don’t blame you, it’s so much fun to do!  Try Slurp-Worthy Yaki Udon for a lighter option to a classic take out dish.  And, if you’ve never zoodled beets before, you gotta try it!  This Beet Zoodle Salad with Blueberries, Feta and Mint is almost to gorgeous to eat!

Add our Cucumber Zoodle Tuna Poke Bowl to your Pinterest Boards!

The post Obsession-Worthy Cucumber Zoodle Tuna Poke Bowls appeared first on Forks and Folly.

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Sweet, just slightly spicy, and perfectly tangy – this hoisin grilled chicken stays moist thanks to the marinade and gets an extra flavor boost with a last minute hoisin glaze.

Light her UP!  It’s grill-season, and I am ready for some Hoisin Grilled Chicken.  So are the kids.  I’ve found I’m much more likely to get my boys to eat dinner when it’s grilled.  I think it’s because everything is separate.  Are your kids that way? 

Mine will eat most everything on the plate as long as it’s not touching. Chicken and Zucchini Casserole? They are O.U.T.  Cook the same thing on the grill, all of the sudden chicken and zucchini isn’t that bad. 

Anywho, whether you serve this Marinated & Glazed Hoisin Grilled Chicken along with grilled veggies, on a bed of rice, or end up nibbling it before it even hits the plate… well, that’s up to you.   What I will guarantee is everyone will love it! 

Pointers for Cooking our Hoisin Grilled Chicken

  • Be sure to give the chicken at least an hour to hang out in the super-flavorful marinade of hoisin sauce, vinegar, soy sauce and spices.  It’ll ensure your the chicken stays moist and tender. 

  • After cooking the chicken on the grill, immediately brush the hot chicken with hoisin and allow it to rest at least five minutes before slicing.  You don’t want all of the juices to run out!  
Marinated & Glazed Hoisin Grilled Chicken
Sweet, just slightly spicy, and perfectly tangy - this hoisin grilled chicken stays moist thanks to the marinade and gets an extra flavor boost with a last minute hoisin glaze.
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Ingredients
  • 1/3 cup hoisin sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. ground ginger paste
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 lbs. chicken breasts
Instructions
  1. Combine hoisin, rice wine vinegar, ginger, garlic, and soy sauce in a small bowl and whisk until combined.
  2. Add chicken to a resealable storage bag and pour sauce over top. Massage the marinade into the chicken breasts. Allow to marinate for at least 60 minutes or overnight, if you have the time.
  3. Preheat the grill to medium high. Add the chicken to the grill and cook for 5-6 minutes per side, or until cooked through. Time may vary depending on how thick your chicken breasts are.
  4. Remove from heat and allow to rest ten minutes before slicing. Garnish with sliced green onions and sesame seeds, if desired.
© Katie Harding, Forks and Folly
Category: Main Meal
Need a few side-dish ideas for our Hoisin Grilled Chicken?

Toss thick-stemmed asparagus with a touch of olive oil, salt and pepper.  Add it to the grill in the last five minutes of cooking the chicken.  Use tongs to flip the stems once during the cooking process.

Mix up this Curried Couscous with Chickpeas and Broccoli and serve it along-side your grilled chicken for a complete meal!

Another family favorite?  This Kale and Broccoli Ramen dish.  It’d be great as a base for our Hoisin Grilled Chicken!

Be sure to Pin our Hoisin Grilled Chicken recipe to your Dinner Board!

The post Make This Hoisin Grilled Chicken for Supper Tonight appeared first on Forks and Folly.

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This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Primo®. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Banish boring treadmill workouts with these fun runs.  Mix up the intensity, incline and pace to make your treadmill workouts more effective and enjoyable!

Some people workout because they love the burn of exercise.  I work out because I love food.  I’m not saying that it doesn’t feel good after I finish up a run.  But, enjoying a slice of pizza without the guilt feels better.  I see a personal trainer twice a week – they have a guy that delivers farm fresh eggs and it’s conveniently located near a cool coffee shop. I told you I was motivated by food.  And, I try to get in a run most days a week.

Why to Include Treadmill Workouts in Your Routine

I first started running regularly about ten years ago. About four years ago, I made the decision to invest in a treadmill.  I love an outdoor run – as long as the sun is shining and it’s between 60 and 75 degrees outside – i.e. spring.  Unfortunately, spring also coincides with pollen and caterpillar season, so I can find an excuse not to run outside then, too.  Which means, you’ll find me on my treadmill almost every day.

The other MAJOR bonus that comes with indoor running?  The convenience of having Primo Water + Deluxe Bottom Loading Water Dispenser right next to me.  I guzzle water throughout my runs, especially the long ones, and having cool water right next to me, with the ability to easily refill my water bottle mid-run?  It’s been a game changer. 

My runs are faster and tend to be longer if I stay hydrated throughout.  Primo water goes through a multi-step purification process that includes reverse osmosis and is just what I need to power through a challenging run.  The dispenser also keeps the water chilled, which is what I crave in the middle of a tough workout.

Finally, for all you mommas, running on my treadmill at home means I can keep track of the kids and still get a workout in.

That’s my view from the treadmill.  Never a dull moment, folks.

3 Treadmill Workouts You’ll Need to Try

Looking for a challenge?  This run is killer.  Adjust the speed as necessary for your skill level (i.e. set your minimum speed to 3.5 and your max speed to 6), but keep the incline if you can.  I often pause at minute 27 for a quick water refill… coming off that 2% incline at 7.5 mph can deplete a gal.

Looking to increase your distance beyond a 5k run? This 5.5 miler is a doozie.  The only way I can get through this one is because of the 4 mph breaks.  Phew.  Again, adjust the pace as needed, just be mindful that if you do decrease your speed, you’ll need to tack on some time at the end to get a total of 5.5 miles.

This is one of my favorite runs.  It’s on the longer side, but changing the pace up every 1/4 mile makes it go by fast!

Stay Hydrated During Your Treadmill Workouts

Be sure to drink plenty of water during your runs.  Keeping Primo’s Bottom Loading Water Dispenser in your home gym means you’ll never have to interrupt your session for a refill.  Studies have shown that adding a water dispenser to your home results in families drinking 25% more water (winning!), plus each 5-gallon bottle saves up to 1100 single-use bottles from the landfill. 

Primo water tastes great – it goes through a multi-step purification process that includes reverse osmosis, and with a bottom loading dispenser, you can avoid the lifting, flipping, and spilling common with other systems.  Find Primo water at thousands of retailers nationwide by clicking here.  Use the promo code WATERGOALS25 for 25% off dispenser, FREE fast shipping + a FREE coupon will be mailed for 5-gallon bottle of PRIMO water and another will be in the box when delivered!

Save these Treadmill Workouts to Your Fitness Pinterest Board!

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Primo water dispenser. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

The post Treadmill Workouts to Keep Indoor Running Fun appeared first on Forks and Folly.

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This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of McCain Foods. The opinions and text are all mine. #MyMcCainPotatoes #CollectiveBias

Mediterranean Style Loaded Street Fries are perfect for game-time snacking. Seasoned curly fries are loaded with fresh, crisp veggies, feta and a creamy tahini dressing.  

Spring is full of great sporting events – basketball, soccer, baseball and golf – and, we’re watching it all.  A good game needs good food and to that end, I plan to serve up these Mediterranean Style Loaded Street Fries for my watching parties. 

Now that the weather has gotten a big warmer, I’m adjusting my game-time comfort foods with fresh produce of the season.  And, these Mediterranean Style Loaded Street Fries are getting the full treatment. 

Starting with McCain® Seasoned Curly Fries Seasoned Potato Fries – these real potato fries are flavor packed and get super crispy – we’re adding chopped tomatoes, diced cukes, minced red onions, parsley, feta, a creamy tahini dressing and a spritz of lemon for a food truck-type dish served from the convenience of home!  

Tips for making Mediterranean Style Loaded Street Fries

Because they are serving as the base for a lot of ingredients, make sure your fries get super-crispy in oven.  I usually cook them for a few extra minutes!

When chopping the veggies, I like to make sure they are pretty finely diced.  You’ll also want to squeeze some of the moisture from the tomatoes.  We don’t want to get our fries soggy.

Finally, pour the tahini dressing on top of the Mediterranean Style Loaded Street Fries just before serving.  Don’t forget to add a squeeze of fresh lemon too.  It lends the zest to round out this dish.

Mediterranean Style Loaded Street Fries
Mediterranean Style Loaded Street Fries are perfect for game-time snacking. Seasoned curly fries are loaded with fresh, crisp veggies, feta and a creamy tahini dressing.
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Ingredients
  • McCain® Seasoned Curly Fries Seasoned Potato Fries
  • 1 ripe tomato, diced
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1 English Cucumber, diced
  • 1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 4 oz. feta, crumbled
  • 1 bunch of parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 4 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
  • juice of one lemon, plus extra for garnish
  • salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Cook fries according to package directions. Meanwhile, pat garbanzo beans dry with a paper towel. Pour out onto a sheet pan and drizzle with 1 Tbsp. olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. In the last 10 minutes of baking the fries, add the garbanzo beans to the oven to roast.
  2. Prepare the tahini dressing. In a small bowl, combine the remaining 3 Tbsp. of olive, lemon juice, and tahini. Season with salt and pepper. Whisk until smooth.
  3. Pour out cooked fries onto a serving platter. Top with chopped vegetables, roasted chickpeas, and crumbled feta. Drizzle with tahini and garnish with lemon slices.
© Katie Harding, Forks and Folly
Category: Uncategorized
Score on McCain® Products at Walmart!

Until 5/31/19, you can get $1.50 off when you purchase 2 participating McCain products at Walmart. You can submit your rebate & learn more details here

It’s even easier to score your game time party foods with Walmart Online Grocery.   Shop online and pick up your groceries same day without getting out of your car!  And, there’s no fee!

Save Mediterranean Style Loaded Street Fries to your Pinterest Board!

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This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #GetGrillingSmithfield #SmithfieldGrillingHero #CollectiveBias

Whether you’re the local pitmaster or a rookie when it comes to the grill, this recipe for Grilled St. Louis Style Ribs will be perfect for your next BBQ.

I used to be intimidated by the grill.  I’m not sure why.  Once I learned how to light the darn thing, I realized that cooking with fire is almost always the way to go.  Meat just tastes better on the grill and when you cook on the grill there’s very little to clean up.

So now that the weather warming up, I’m grilling.  Nonstop.  It’s one of my favorite things about summer… besides pool days, margaritas and sleeping in.  Girl’s gotta have priorities.

Have you ever grilled St. Louis Style Ribs before?  Sound intimidating, right?  It’s not.  In fact it’s one of the easiest things to grill.  As long as you have patience and you start with quality Smithfield Extra Tender Fresh Pork Ribs, you’ll have a mouth-watering meal in your future.

New to cooking Grilled St. Louis Style Ribs?

Here are a few things to know – it takes a few hours.  Low and slow is key.  You’ll also need to hang out by the grill while you cook.  Not for every second, but you need to give the ribs some TLC.  So plan on chillin’ grill-side and sharing a cold one or two with a friend to keep you company.  Good food is worth waiting for.

What you need when cooking Grilled St. Louis Style Ribs

Make sure you have a pretty full tank of propane.  If you plan to cook on a gas grill, you’ll want to make sure you have enough fuel to see you through.  You’ll also need some grill tongs, heavy duty aluminum foil, and grill spray or oil to get your grill grates ready for the meat.

Grilled St. Louis Style Ribs with DIY Spice Rub
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Whether you're the local pitmaster or a rookie when it comes to the grill, this recipe for Grilled St. Louis Style Ribs will be perfect for your next BBQ.
Ingredients
  • 3 lbs. Smithfield Extra Tender Fresh Pork St. Louis Style Ribs
  • ¼ cup Dijon mustard
  • ¼ cup Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 cup Barbecue Sauce, plus additional for serving
  • 4 Tbsp. Dry Rub Spice Blend*
Instructions
  1. Allow the meat to rest at least 15 minutes prior to slicing. Serve with additional barbecue sauce, if desired.
  2. Preheat your grill on one side and allow it to come to 350 degrees. Clean the grill rack and coat with oil. Place the ribs bone-side-down on the side of the grill with indirect heat. Close the lid and cook for 30 minutes.
  3. Remove the ribs from the grill and wrap in aluminum foil. Once you’ve create a nice foil-bed for your ribs, pour in the vinegar and roll up the edges to form a tight seal. Crank up the heat a bit so it's somewhere between 375 and 400 and return the ribs to the low-heat side of the grill for another 45 minutes.
  4. Carefully remove the foil-wrapped ribs from the grill. Unwrap the ribs and return them to the grill. Reduce the temperature to hover somewhere around 300 degrees. Continue to cook the ribs, basting both sides with barbecue sauce, until the meat is tender and the internal temperature is 175 degrees Fahrenheit.  
  5. Allow the meat to rest at least 15 minutes prior to slicing. Serve with additional barbecue sauce, if desired.

To make the spice blend, whisk together the following ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. each: celery salt, ground cumin, ground coriander, kosher salt, smoked paprika, arlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, dried oregano and dry mustard
© Katie
Category: Main Meal

Find all of the ingredients for this Grilled St. Louis Style Ribs recipe at your local Walmart. I love their Online Grocery Pickup Service which is fast and convenient.  Use this link to purchase Smithfield Extra Tender Fresh Pork St. Louis Style Ribs.  Smithfield Extra Tender Fresh Pork Ribs are hand trimmed, extra tender and have no added hormones or steroids.

Are you the Hero of the Grill in your home? Be sure to visit the Hero of the Grill Contest and Sweepstakes details on SmithfieldGetGrilling.com for a chance to win $5,000!

Looking for a few great sides for those ribs?  Try our Broccoli and Kale Ramen Salad or this Veggie and Black Bean Sheet Pan Nachos recipe.

Pin me!

The post Grilled St. Louis Style Ribs with DIY Spice Rub appeared first on Forks and Folly.

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This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Plugrá Butter®. The opinions and text are all mine.

Our version of Spring Coq au Vin takes a lighter approach to this classic French dish with seasonal veggies and a light butter-wine sauce.

Coq au Vin literally translates to Chicken and Wine.  Traditional Coq au Vin is one of my favorite dishes.  In fact, when I got married it was one of the recipes my husband’s grandmother passed down to me.  It can take upwards of 2 1/2 hours to cook, and uses the whole bird.  Once broken down, the chicken is braised in a rich sauce with bacon and mushrooms, creating a hearty and rich dish that makes all the work worth it.

While utterly delicious, traditional Coq au Vin is a dish that I like to order when I go out to eat… not make at home.  When I get the craving for a dish with chicken and wine I have another version that requires a lot less effort!  My Spring Coq au Vin recipe features chicken thighs bathed in a butter and wine sauce and surrounded with my favorite spring vegetables.  It’s a simple dish made incredible with quality ingredients.

I always use a white wine I love to drink and premium Plugrá® Butter when making Spring Coq a Vin.  Made with real milk from American dairy farmers (versus leading premium butters which are imported), Plugrá Butter has no artificial ingredients or added growth hormones.  The butter and all of the other ingredients found in this recipe can be found at Publix.

How to Make Spring Coq au Vin

I like to prep all of the ingredients for this recipe before getting started with the cooking process.  Chop the beans, drain and halve the artichokes.  Thaw the peas, and shred the carrots all before the chicken hits the pan.

Once the butter melts in the skillet add the chicken.  I used four chicken thighs, but adjust the servings to allow for one chicken thigh per person.  Just ensure that your skillet is large enough to make sure that none of the chicken overlaps when cooking.

When searing the chicken, you’ll know when it’s time to flip when the chicken easily releases from the bottom of the pan.  If it sticks, it’s not ready yet.

Don’t worry if the chicken isn’t thoroughly cooked when removing it from the pan.  You’ll finish cooking it through once you soften the veggies.  You’ll start with the leek and carrots.  Once they’ve softened, you’ll add the green beans.  When they are bright green it’s time to add the wine.  Be sure to loosen up any browned bits stuck on the bottom of the pan, which adds tons of delicious flavor to the sauce.

When the wine reduces by half, it’s time to add the remaining ingredients, including the reserved chicken, to the pan.  You’ll cook everything until the chicken and veggies are done and you have a nice pan sauce.

I like to enjoy the dish as-is, but my kids love it over butter noodles.  Either way… enjoy!

Spring Coq au Vin

Yield 4 servings

Our version of Spring Coq au Vin takes a lighter approach to this classic French dish with seasonal veggies and a light butter-wine sauce.

Ingredients

4-6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs

3 Tbsp. Plugrá Butter

1 leek, cleaned and sliced

1 carrot, shredded

1/2 lb. green beans, trimmed and chopped

1 can of artichoke hearts, drained, rinsed and halved

3/4 cup frozen peas, thawed

1/2 cup dry white wine

3/4 cup chicken stock

salt and pepper to taste

Instructions
  • Season chicken thighs on each side generously with salt and pepper.   Melt butter in a large skillet over medium high heat.  Once foaming, add chicken and sear on both sides.  Don’t flip until the chicken releases easily from the skillet – each side will cook for about three minutes.  Remove the chicken to a plate.
  • In the same skillet, add leeks and carrots. Sauté until softened.  Add green beans and continue cooking until bright green.  Stir in wine and cook, loosening up any brown bits.  
  • When the wine has reduced by half, add in artichoke hearts, frozen peas, chicken stock, and seared chicken.  Continue to cook another five minutes, or until the chicken is cooked, the veggies are cooked and tender and a nice sauce has formed.
  • Taste for salt and pepper and remove from heat.  Serve with crusty bread or on top of butter noodles, if desired.

Plugrá Butter is slow-churned for less moisture (which lends optimal flavor and offers better performance in sauce and baking recipes). You can find Plugrá Butter in the dairy section at your local Publix.  Get savings on your next purchase of Plugrá Butter – available in both salted and unsalted varieties – by clicking here.

Save Spring Coq au Vin to Recipe Board on Pinterest!

The post Spring Coq Au Vin (Fancy for Chicken and Veggies) appeared first on Forks and Folly.

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This Guinness Chocolate Cake with Baileys Cream Cheese Icing should be priority number #1 this St. Patrick’s Day! Priority #2 – deciding if you’ll serve it with a glass of Guinness or Baileys!

I don’t usually get excited about St. Patrick’s Day.  I’m not aware of having any Irish blood, drinking green beer was only a novelty in college, and wearing green so I don’t get pinched by a leprechaun is just weird.

That being said, I did make Corned Beef for the first time last year for work and discovered that I liked it.  This year, I thought I’d continue the ‘try new Irish foods’ trend by whipping up a Guinness flavored chocolate cake.  Turns out, I kinda love a beer-flavored cake.

Chocolate cake isn’t always my first choice for dessert, but adding a nice Irish stout to the recipe cuts that sweetness down and makes one helluva good batter.  The finished product wasn’t so bad either!  Topped off with a cream cheese icing spiked with Bailey’s Irish Cream?  Now we’re talking…

Why make Guinness Chocolate Cake with Baileys Cream Cheese Icing?

Because there’s beer in the batter…

And booze in the icing!

Guinness Chocolate Cake with Baileys Cream Cheese Icing

Green beer is one way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.  The better way is with a slice of Guinness Chocolate Cake with Baileys Cream Cheese Icing!

Ingredients

1 cup Guinness stout

10 Tbsp. butter

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa

2 cups sugar

3/4 cup whole-fat Greek yogurt

2 large eggs

1 Tbsp. vanilla

2 cups all purpose flour

2 tsp. baking soda

Icing:

1 3/4 cup powdered sugar

8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

1/3 cup Baileys Irish Cream

Instructions
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a 9″ springform pan with parchment paper and coat with cooking spray.
  • In a small sauce pan, combine Guinness and butter.   Cook over medium heat until butter is melted.  Remove from heat and add cocoa and sugar.  Whisk to combine.
  • In a bowl, combine sour cream, eggs and vanilla.  Mix well.  Add Guinness mixture, stirring to combine, then sift in flour and baking soda.  Whisk until smooth.  
  • Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Meanwhile, use a stand mixer to beat together icing ingredients until smooth.  
  • Once completely cool, ice the top of the cake and serve!

Need more ways to cook with beer this weekend? Try our spicy beer queso, beer-braised brats, and this spicy mango shandy recipe!

Save Guinness Chocolate Cake with Baileys Cream Cheese Icing to your Dessert Pinterest Board!

The post Guinness Chocolate Cake with Baileys Cream Cheese Icing appeared first on Forks and Folly.

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As with many of the major decisions my husband and I have made together, we didn’t think on our decision to host an exchange student.  It just felt right.  It may not be that easy of a decision for other families, but hosting a year-long exchange student didn’t take much discussion for us.  In fact, it was a simple text message.

I received email one morning from my boys’ elementary school requesting families to host an exchange student through AFS.  With three young kids in the house, adding another kid to the mix wasn’t top on my list, but I thought it might be fun… one day.  So I filled out the form for more information.  About 30 minutes later I got a call from AFS.

I wasn’t expecting the quick follow up, but when I was told there were kids that really needed a home, I quickly caved.   We have an unused guest room and an extra spot at the dinner table.  Why not!?!?

“What does your husband think about hosting a student?” the interviewer asked.  Quickly, I sent a text to the hubs… “Wanna host an exchange student for the next school year?” He immediately responded, “Sure!  Sounds like fun.”

We were given the opportunity to peruse students’ profiles, but Jon and I both agreed – we wanted to host an exchange student from some place we had never been and knew little about.  Selfishly, I wanted a girl.   We filled out a thorough family application and had an in-home interview.

That’s how Mercy from Kenya became a member of the Harding clan.  She arrived in August, a few weeks before school started.  During this time, we got used to each other.  We took her to the pool where she learned how to swim.  My husband taught her how to ride a bike.  She was eager to try new foods and learn everything she could about her new home in America.

I’m not saying we haven’t had challenging moments.  Being a 16 year old girl isn’t easy.  Being 16 away from everything and everyone you know has to be terrifying.  But I’m the mom, and I’ve done everything I can to help her along this journey, and it’s been so incredibly rewarding.

After having Mercy in our home for six months now, calling her an exchange student just doesn’t feel adequate.  She’s a sister to my boys and will always have a place in our home.  She plays UNO with James.  She watches romantic comedies on rainy Saturday afternoons with me.  She goes on bike rides with my husband and helps with family dinners.  She’s the daughter I didn’t know I needed to complete our family.

Mercy goes back to Kenya in June.  I’m gonna need some extra hugs from my friends that month, just a heads up.  But, it’s what we both signed up for, and I know she has a family in Africa that misses her terribly.  Plus, now we have an excuse to cross African Safari off of our bucket list.  Kenya in 2020, here we come!

Hosting Mercy this year had such a positive impact on our family, we’ve already signed up to host another student for the 2019-2020 school year.  To be honest, our family feels complete with four kids in the house.  And knowing we have extended family throughout the world is one of the most incredible feelings…ever.

Want to learn more about AFS, which is the organization we used to find our host student, or have more general questions about hosting?  Feel free to reach out by leaving a comment below.

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The post Why My Family Chose to Host an Exchange Student appeared first on Forks and Folly.

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