Banana Pudding

Banana Pudding is one of the easiest and most traditional recipes one could make.
It’s one of those recipes that doesn’t require much ingredients so it’s affordable and is perfect for a potluck or any other type of gathering.

This is your basic banana pudding, my family only adds in one special ingredient; Mexican Vanilla. 

Ingredients:

  • Vanilla Wafers
  • 2 Boxes of Vanilla Instant Pudding
  • Milk (For the instant pudding. Follow box for instructions.)
  • Bananas (The more pudding you would like, the more bananas you should get.)
  • 2 Containers of Whipped Cream
  • 2 tsp. of Mexican Vanilla (Optional)

Directions:

In a separate bowl, follow instructions for the Vanilla Instant Pudding, remember if you are making two boxes, you will double up on the measurement of milk.

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Once all combined, let it sit for five minutes.

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Set that aside and get your main bowl ready for layering.

The first layer is the Vanilla Wafers.

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Next you add a layer of your Vanilla Instant Pudding. Make sure the layer is enough to cover all the wafers.

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The next layer will be the sliced bananas.

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Before you add the whipped cream, add one teaspoon of the Mexican Vanilla extract and mix it in the container. You do not have to add the Mexican Vanilla but it gives the pudding an extra something. Again, remember if you are using more than one container of whipped cream, add a teaspoon of the Mexican Vanilla extract to each container.

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Now that you have completed your first full layer, you repeat each step until you reach the top of the bowl you are using.

So remember:

  • Vanilla Wafers
  • Vanilla Instant Pudding
  • Sliced Bananas
  • Whipped Cream

The last layer on top has be whipped cream so in case you are running low on the rest of the ingredients, get to a good stopping point and make sure you top of the pudding with whipped cream.

If I have any remaining Vanilla Wafers, I crush them in the bag and sprinkle them on top. Also, if I have any maraschino cherries, I’ll add a few of those too but that is completely optional.

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I tend to use a clear glass bowl when I make my banana pudding solely for the reason that I love to look at all layers.

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Store in the refrigerator until you are ready to eat!

This is typically a hit at gatherings and one of my favorite go to recipes, what’s your favorite go to recipe for desserts?

With Love,

– R. Vargas

Cinnaholic

I was recently invited to Cinnaholic to try some of their amazing gourmet cinnamon rolls and I was greeted by two lovely sisters Elisa and Brittany who own and operate this franchise location.
Their warmth and wonderful hospitality is one of the many reasons why people keep coming back for these cinnamon rolls.

This franchise was opened a little over three months ago and the concept began when Elisa and Brittany made a trip to California to check out a Cinnaholic location there which was recommended by their sister Jennifer and fell in love with the product and the company.

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Not only are these gourmet cinnamon rolls 100% vegan, they are made with quality ingredients, they are also dairy & lactose-free, egg-free and cholesterol-free.

Too good to be true right?

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Raspberry frosting, topped with blueberries and pie crumble.

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Chocolate frosting, topped with coconut, chocolate chips and chocolate sauce.

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Their bestseller, “Cookie Monster.” Cream cheese frosting, topped with cookie dough and chocolate sauce.

These may be vegan but I promise you will not taste any difference in them and as a matter of fact, they taste better than a regular cinnamon roll and you won’t have any guilt after indulging in one!

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Indulging in the, “Cookie Monster.

Cinnaholic’s frosting flavors include: Almond, Amaretto, Banana Cream, Butterscotch, Cake Batter, Caramel, Chai, Chocolate, Coffee, Cream Cheese, Hazelnut, Lemon, Macadamia Nut, Maple, Marshmallow, Orange, Peanut Butter, Raspberry, Strawberry and Vanilla.
Their toppings include: Almonds, Apples, Bananas, Blackberries, Blueberries, Brownie Bites, Caramel Sauce, Chocolate Chips, Chocolate Sauce, Coconut, Cookie Dough, Gingersnap Cookies, Graham Crackers, Marshmallows, ‘Oreo’ Cookies, Pecans, Pie Crumble, Pretzels, Raspberries, Strawberries, Strawberry Jam and Walnuts.

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Not only do they offer cinnamon rolls but they also have brownies, cookies, and cookie dough all made from scratch!

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This bakery had such a great atmosphere and is set in an area where partnering with local vendors, schools, and investing in the community is truly valuable to this family based business. Building relationships with the community is key.

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Partnering with local vendors like Addison Coffee Roasters and Sterling Tea from Rockwall.

I can’t thank them enough for hosting me!
If you’re ever near Richardson, Texas make sure you stop by to visit Cinnaholic where you’ll be greeted by the sweetest sisters ever!

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At one time there was about 10 franchise locations and now there are 50 with 20 more to yet to come! So look for a location near to you!

Xoxo,

-R. Vargas

Old Chicago | Pizza & Taproom

Recently I entered a giveaway on LittleMixico’s instagram and won a $50 gift certificate to Old Chicago

I was more than excited to go and try all their delicious food that I’ve heard so much about!

I planned my visit and upon my arrival, I was met by the GM Brian Bosby who showed me and my guest to our seats.

Our booth had a great view of the bar, several flat screens, and the patio area.

Brian welcomed us once we got seated and comfortable and introduced us to our wonderful waiter Nathan who was full of personality and had a great sense of humor.

While looking at our menu’s and not knowing where to start, Nathan took our drinks and recommended the, “Chi-Town Trio,” which included Italian Nacho’s, baked to order garlic bread, and Sicilian pepperoni rolls.

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My favorite on this plate was the Sicilian pepperoni rolls!
Cheesy, pepperoni, marinara sauce in each bite!

Our waiter Nathan made our drinks and even though I am legal to drink, he sure did make Shirley Temple’s look good. I however stuck to my classic beer, Blue Moon.

Old Chicago offers vodka, tequila, rum, bourbon, gin, whiskey/scotch, shots, draft or bottled beer, flights, hard cider, you name it, they have it. They even offer nice virgin drinks.

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While finishing up our first appetizer, Brian stopped by to recommend some different pizzas and other dishes. He also asked us if we were ready to try their hand-tossed chicken wings.
We looked at the menu and with 7 different sauces and 3 dry-rubs, we all decided on Original Buffalo.

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By the time we finally decided on our main course, we were already feeling full.

At first we were all going to share a pizza but upon looking at the menu, I saw that Old Chicago has more to offer than just pizza.

They have craft burgers and sandwiches, specialty calzones, pastas, fresh salads, and of course all kinds of pizzas.

Whether you want to build your own pizza or have a specialty pizza, they have it. They even offer their signature Chicago Thick crust or their New Ale crust pizza dough made from scratch. To my surprise they even offer Gluten Free pizza!

My guests chose to build their own pizza and I chose the Cajun Spice dish.

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The Cajun Spice dish was delightful!
The dish contained corkscrew macaroni, Anaheim peppers, roasted red  peppers and andouille sausage blended with Cajun spices and Old Chicago’s signature white cheddar cheese sauce topped with aged white cheddar, buttered bread crumbs, and green onions.
This dish had just the right amount of kick and spice in it and I’m so pleased I didn’t have to share.

I did manage to steal a slice of pizza and it did not disappoint!

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We didn’t even finish our meal and Nathan and Brian stopped by to recommend the Warm Cinnamon Crunch Rolls for dessert.

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Fresh warm cinnamon rolls topped with a caramel sauce, cream cheese frosting and cinnamon crunch topping. Cinnamon rolls never looked so good and this dessert was AMAZING!

With locations across the states, if you ever find yourself near an Old Chicago Pizza & Taproom, do yourself a favor and stop by.

And if you live in the DFW area in Texas like I do, Old Chicago at Dallas Mockingbird Station is a must!

We had such an amazing time and I can’t thank the staff enough for making our visit so special with their warm hospitality.

My appetite and I will be back for more soon!

Xoxo,

-R. Vargas

 

Snickerdoodles

Such a simple and quick recipe to follow, Snickerdoodles are one of my favorite recipes to bake.

Ingredients:

  • 1 3/4 cups of sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of ground cinnamon
  • 2 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons of cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) of unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup of vegetable shortening
  • 2 large eggs

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.

Combine 1/4 cup of the sugar and cinnamon together in a small dish for rolling.

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In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt together.

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In a large bowl, beat the butter, shortening, and remaining 11/2 cups of sugar together with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy.

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Beat in the eggs, one at a time until incorporated.

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Slowly add the flour mixture.

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Mix well until combined.
Working with two tablespoons of dough at a time, roll the dough into balls with wet hands, then roll in the cinnamon sugar to coat.

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Lay the dough balls on the prepared baking sheets, spaced about two inches apart.

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Bake the cookies, one sheet at a time, until the edges are set and just beginning to brown but the centers are still soft and puffy, 10 to 12 minutes, rotating each baking sheet halfway through baking.

Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes and enjoy!

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Xoxo,

-R. Vargas

Philly Cheesecake

The simplest and most delicious cheesecake you’ll ever make! It’s a plain cheesecake but you can top it with different fruits if you’d like. (I chose strawberries.)

Ingredients:

  • 3/4th cups of graham cracker crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons of margarine (melted)
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  • 2 8-ounce packages of Cream Cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon of grated lemon peel
  • 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla
  • 2 eggs, separated

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Directions:

Combine the graham cracker crumbs and margarine; press onto bottom of 7-inch spring-form pan.

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Bake at 325°F for 10 minutes.

Combine cream cheese, sugar, juice, peel, and vanilla, mixing at a medium speed with an electric mixer.

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Add egg yolks, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.

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Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form; fold into cream cheese mixture.

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Once everything is combined well, remove mixing bowl.

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Pour batter over crust.

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Bake at 300°F for 55 minutes.

While the cheesecake is baking in the oven, you can go ahead and prep your fruit if you choose to top your cheesecake with fruit.

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I washed my strawberries and began to slice them and place them in a bowl.

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Once the strawberries are sliced in the bowl, add in a few spoonful’s of sugar and mix along with the strawberries.

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Place in the fridge and let it sit for a few minutes. The sugar will make a syrup substance.

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Once the cheesecake is out of the oven, loosen cake from rim of pan; cool before removing rim of pan.

Chill in the fridge, and top with fresh fruit.

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Hope you enjoy!

Xoxo,

-R. Vargas

Raspberry Croissant Desserts

Something like a bread pudding, sweet and tart all in one.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter, melted
  • 4 croissants
  • 2 cups of fresh raspberries
  • 1/4 cup of maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 cups of whole milk
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • cinnamon and brown sugar for sprinklingRaspberry Croissant 007
    Directions:
    Preheat the oven to 425°F.
    Place a baking sheet on the middle shelf.
    Brush four 1 1/2-cup ramekins (individual ceramic dishes) with half the butter.
    Raspberry Croissant 009Raspberry Croissant 010Chop the croissants into bite-size chunks.
    Mix the raspberries and divide among the dishes.
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    Raspberry Croissant 014Spoon 1 tablespoon of the maple syrup over the contents of each dish.
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    Heat the milk until almost boiling, then quickly beat in the eggs and vanilla extract.
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    Pour the milk mixture evenly over the dishes, pressing the croissants down lightly.
    Raspberry Croissant 030Drizzle with the remaining butter and sprinkle sugar and a little cinnamon over each dish.
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    Place the dishes on the baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes, until lightly set.
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    Raspberry Croissant 039Raspberry Croissant 037Enjoy!

    Xoxo,

    -R. Vargas

Vanilla-Frosted Cupcakes

The most delicious and basic cupcake recipe you will ever make!

Ingredients:

  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1/2 cup of granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup of all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon of sprinkles (if desired)

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Frosting Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 sticks of butter
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups of confectioners’ sugar
    (I had to make 24 cupcakes so I doubled up on the ingredients since the ingredients listed only called for 12 cupcakes.)

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Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Put 12 cupcake liners in a muffin pan or 12 double-layer cupcake liners on a baking sheet.

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Beat together the butter and sugar in a bowl until light and fluffy.

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Gradually beat in the eggs, sift in the flour and baking powder and fold in with the milk.

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Spoon the batter into the cupcake liners. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, until golden brown.

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To make the frosting, put the butter and vanilla extract in a bowl and beat until pale and soft. Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar, beating well after each addition.

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Spoon the frosting into a large pastry bag or squeeze bottle with a design tip if you have any, or simply frost the cupcakes the old fashioned way.
(I added in a few drops of food coloring to change the frosting into a rose pink color, and used a squeeze bottle to decorate the cupcakes.)

Here was my final product:

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Let me know how your cupcakes turn out!

Enjoy!

Xoxo,

-R. Vargas