Cherry Salsa

My cherry obsession is still going strong…

A bowl of delicious Cherry Salsa just waiting to be eaten with your favorite tortilla chips!

I honestly can’t get enough! Do you ever obsess about a certain produce item coming into season so much that your list of what to do with it is about a mile long? Hi, yea, looking at me right here. This Cherry Salsa is just another in the long list of recipe ideas I’ve been dreaming about since cherries went out of season last year, and I’m so excited about the way it turned out!


I know I’ve been inundating you with the cherry recipes lately, so I can only hope that you’re enjoying these Cherry Bourbon Breezes and this Herbed Cherry and Ricotta Crostini as much as I am. If so, I’m confident that you’ll be totally digging on this Cherry Salsa as well.

It’s an easy recipe, with no cooking involved, that can easily be served up on its own as an appetizer or snack, or as a topping for your favorite barbecued meat (I have some juicy grilled pork chops in mind.) Might I also mention it would be the perfect addition to your Father’s Day menu this weekend?

This Cherry Salsa is the perfect appetizer or snack for any barbecue or family get-together you're having this weekend!

Speaking of, what are your plans for celebrating Dad on Sunday? We’re so lucky that both of our dads live relatively close to each other, so we’re heading up to the Bay Area to spend some quality time with them, and of course to make them some delicious food!

I think some Cherry Salsa might definitely need to make an appearance alongside the tri tip, chicken and sausages we’re already planning on serving. Still need to think of some more sides and dessert though. Any fun suggestions?

As I mentioned above, this Cherry Salsa is a breeze to make, and you can have it ready to serve in under 20 minutes. It involves basically all of the same ingredients as a regular pico de gallo salsa, but subs in fresh, pitted cherries instead of  tomatoes. That’s it! So easy, right?

Fresh cherries, rinsed and ready to be made into delicious Cherry Salsa!

And if you’re looking for another, more traditional salsa to serve alongside (or instead) of this one, be sure to check out my Spicy Homemade Salsa. You could even go with a fancy selection and add this Mango Salsa to the mix! Clearly I’m a salsa-lover and I’m not ashamed to show it.

Even if you have no plans for Father’s Day, this Cherry Salsa needs to make an appearance in your household in the next week. Cherries are at the top of their game right now and you wouldn’t want to miss out on another great opportunity to use them.

An overhead shot of a big bowl of delicious Cherry Salsa.

Happy Monday and I hope your week is made even better with this delicious recipe!

A bowl of delicious Cherry Salsa just waiting to be eaten with your favorite tortilla chips!
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Cherry Salsa

A fun take on everyone's favorite Mexican condiment, this salsa uses the season's best fresh cherries in lieu of tomatoes - a delicious twist!

Course: Appetizer, Side Dish, Snack
Servings: 6 people
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 16 ounces fresh red cherries, pitted and diced
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 white onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Juice of 1/2 a lime
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
Instructions
  1. Add all ingredients to a medium bowl and stir to combine. Refrigerate for a half hour or so for best results. Serve with tortilla chips!

Cherry Salsa | CaliGirlCooking.com

Hydrating Citrus Coconut Refresher

The perfect way to get ready for the weekend!

Two frosty glasses of the Hydrating Citrus Coconut Refresher mocktail. You can also make it a cocktail by adding vodka or gin!

It’s no secret that I love alllllll the tropical flavors. I mean, just take a quick glance through my Recipe Index and you’ll find everything from this Belizean Rum Punch to this Li Hing Pineapple Margarita. And now that it’s (almost) officially summer, they’re just going to keep on coming starting with this Hydrating Citrus Coconut Refresher!


If you’re new to these parts, you can take a look at this Lightened Up Double Strawberry Milkshake post for all the deets on why I’m taking a little break from the heavily alcoholic beverages but, have no fear! Even if the drink recipes I’m posting don’t always contain alcohol as is, I’ll always provide a recommendation for a good way to booze them up a little bit 😉 (I mean, someone around here’s got to have a little fun, right??)

But before I get to my new fave Hydrating Citrus Coconut Refresher, tell me, what fun things are you up to this weekend? I, for one, am really looking forward to relaxing and just getting my head on straight. I recently took a part-time copyrighting job for a beverage company and it has definitely been keeping me busy. I’ve been working 14-hour days (between the blog and this new gig,) waking up early and going to bed a little later than usual for this preggo mama. I’ve just gotten the bulk of a big project out of the way, though, so I’m looking forward to regrouping, maybe heading to the beach, and just getting some extra sleep over the next couple of days!

A single ice-cold glass of the Hydrating Citrus Coconut Refresher mocktail or cocktail!

I will also most likely be sipping on plenty of Hydrating Citrus Coconut Refreshers. Since I’ve been pregnant, I’ve really been conscious of not going overboard on the nonalcoholic beverages, whose empty calories can really add up over time (Baby D. needs real, filling nutrients, not empty calories!) What I love about this Hydrating Citrus Coconut Refresher is that it’s actually REALLY healthy, with hardly any sugar (save for a little bit of simple syrup.)

The lemon and lime juices are giving me (and baby) an extra dose of Vitamin C, while the coconut water and club soda make the drink incredibly hydrating. So there’s definitely no need for me to feel guilty when I’m sipping one of these and relaxing on a sunny beach this weekend!

An overhead shot of the tasty Hydrating Citrus Coconut Refresher.

The other great thing about this mocktail is that, if you’re anything like me, you probably already have just all of these ingredients on hand in your pantry or refrigerator. And if you aren’t well-stocked with bar accessories like simple syrup, just throw some water and sugar together in a pot to boil and simmer down and you’ll have a homemade batch ready in no time.

And for those of you who are still able to imbibe, I’d highly recommend either vodka or gin as the spirit of choice to spike these bad boys. I am personally more of a fan of gin because of its floral notes, but I also know there are a lot of you out there who would much rather go the less flavor-forward vodka route.

I’m keeping it fairly short today because there are a lot of tasks I still need to complete before kicking off my weekend with a Hydrating Citrus Coconut Refresher, but enjoy your Friday and, if you can, enjoy a spiked version or two for me!

This Hydrating Citrus Coconut refresher is nonalcoholic, but can easily be made into a cocktail with the addition of vodka or gin!

Two frosty glasses of the Hydrating Citrus Coconut Refresher mocktail. You can also make it a cocktail by adding vodka or gin!
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Hydrating Citrus Coconut Refresher
Prep Time
5 mins
 

The perfect, healthy mocktail for summer featuring two types of fresh citrus, hydrating coconut water and fizzy club soda. Make it boozy with vodka or gin!

Course: Drinks
Servings: 1 cocktail
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 1 ounce fresh lemon juice
  • 1 ounce fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 ounce simple syrup
  • 2 ounces coconut water
  • 2 ounces club soda
  • Optional: 2 ounces vodka or gin
Instructions
  1. Combine all the ingredients except the club soda in a cocktail shaker filled ¾ full with ice. Shake vigorously for 10-20 seconds and then strain into a highball glass filled with fresh ice. Top with club soda and garnish with a lemon and lime wedge threaded onto a cocktail pick.

 Citrus Coconut Refresher | CaliGirlCooking.com

Coconut Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

Because I just can’t get enough!

Freshly cut slices of Coconut Chocolate Chip Banana Bread.

For realzzzzz tho, I’m a diehard banana bread lover, especially when it’s loaded with all of the same flavors you find in your favorite Girl Scout cookie (Samoas, I’m looking at you!) This Coconut Chocolate Chip Banana Bread just MAY be the best recipe adaptation I’ve ever made.


My passion for banana bread started when I was just a wee tyke (okay, maybe a preteen) getting interested in the world of cooking and baking. My mom had a Mrs. Fields I Love Chocolate Cookbook (thanks to my Dad’s obsession with ‘Vitamin C,” as we dubbed it in our household) and, upon leafing through it for inspiration, I settled on making the cookie goddess’ Chocolate Chip Banana Bread, if only because (a) it looked really easy and (b) it made two loaves!

Let’s just say this Chocolate Chip Banana Bread was a smashing success in our household, and became my go-to baked good whenever we wanted a little breakfast treat or dessert around to munch on.

Two freshly baked loaves of Coconut Chocolate Chip Banana Bread cooling on their racks.

It’s been a while since I busted out the ol’ recipe that I copied out of my mom’s cookbook by hand to bring with me to my “adult” home, if for no other reason than I’ve been busy baking everything else under the sun for this blog (like this Hummingbird Bread, this Harvey Wallbanger Cake and these Addicting S’mores Granola Clusters.)

But pregnancy tends to bring you back to your homegrown roots, and I found myself craving a sweetly satisfying breakfast bread that I could easily enjoy a piece of when I wake up at the crack of dawn and still have a couple of hours to wait before the hubs is awake and it’s time for our Power Protein Smoothie.

So, I decided to take what I already knew was a favorite of mine and really make it my own. This oh-so-delicious Coconut Chocolate Chip Banana Bread is the proud result! I used much of the original Mrs. Field’s Chocolate Chip Banana Bread recipe, except I decided to add a tropical twist with some finely shredded unsweetened coconut. I also not only reduced the overall sugar content in the recipe, but decided to use brown sugar as a partial substitute to really give the bread some caramelly flavor which, if you saw my above note about Samoas, is obviously a great compliment to the chocolate and coconut flavors.

Three stacked slices of Coconut Chocolate Chip Banana Bread ready to be eaten!

Don’t be scared off by the large quantities of some of the ingredients. Keep in mind that this recipe makes two loaves! And I would like to point out that they freeze REALLY well. I’m starting to think about what I’m going to want to load our freezer with before Baby D. comes, and if the second loaf of this last batch of Coconut Chocolate Chip Banana Bread happens to get consumed in the next four and a half months (which is very likely,) you can bet I’ll be making more. We need to be sure we’re well-equipped with delicious breakfast foods when we’re incredibly sleep-deprived and walking around the kitchen like zombies.

And the whole reason I came to enjoy making banana bread still stands true today – it is so easy! The hardest part might just be planning enough in advance so you can pull some butter out of the refrigerator to come to room temperature before making the batter.

Aside from that, you can have the batter mixed, poured out into the loaf pans and into the oven in less than 15 minutes. Then the only tricky part is waiting the hour it takes for the loaves to cook. It won’t be long before the smell of Coconut Chocolate Chip Banana Bread is wafting through your house!

An overhead shot of a loaf of freshly baked Coconut Chocolate Chip Banana Bread.

This post contains affiliate links. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you for continuing to support the brands that make CaliGirl Cooking possible!

Freshly cut slices of Coconut Chocolate Chip Banana Bread.
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Coconut Chocolate Chip Banana Bread
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
1 hrs 5 mins
Total Time
1 hrs 20 mins
 

This fun twist on banana bread adds two classic flavors - chocolate and coconut! It's an incredibly easy recipe and makes enough to enjoy now AND later!

Course: Breakfast, Dessert
Servings: 2 8.5-inch loaves
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 3 cups mashed bananas (about 8 bananas)
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla bean extract or vanilla bean paste
  • 3/4 cup flaked, unsweetened coconut
  • 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray two 8.5-inch loaf pans with cooking spray and line the bottoms with parchment paper to prevent sticking. Set aside.

  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.

  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and both types of sugar until light and fluffy. Add the bananas and beaten eggs and mix until well incorporated. Add the vanilla.

  4. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and mix to combine. Remove the bowl from the stand mixer and, using a spatula, fold in the coconut and chocolate chips. 

  5. Pour the batter evenly into your two prepared loaf pans, then place in the preheated oven for 65-70 minutes, or until a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean (a little bit of melted chocolate is okay.)

  6. Let loaves cool, in pans, on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then turn out of pans to cool completely. 

Coconut Chocolate Chip Banana Bread | CaliGirlCooking.com

Travel Diaries: Venice

We’re kicking off the week with another travel post!

The morning sun just starting to kiss the canals of Venice.

A couple of weeks ago I told you all about the first portion of our Italy trip in my Travel Diaries: Tuscany post, and today it’s time for me to tell you all about our second leg, Venice!


I had been to Venice before, but no one else in the group (except my Aunt Carol) had. As we all know, it’s an unforgettable town and, albeit overly crowded most days out of the year, it’s a place you definitely have to visit at least once in your lifetime (and before it sinks!) When I found out Venice was only a two-and-a-half hour train ride from Florence, I knew this would be the perfect place to break up our trip.

So, without further ado, here are all the deets!

A gondola travels up one of the many canals of Venice.

WHERE WE STAYED

Since we were traveling in a group of seven, we decided it would be most economical to rent a multi-bedroom apartment that could accommodate us rather than having to book upwards of four separate hotel rooms at any one establishment. In all of our travels, we’ve found that AirBnB’s (our other vacation home rentals) are by far the cheapest option when vacationing with a large party. We ended up finding this five bedroom apartment in the Dorsoduro region of Venice, which I must say was pretty ideal location-wise. It’s not a super-touristy area, but only about a 15-minute walk away from all of the city’s hot spots, like the Piazza San Marco.

The apartment itself had tons of old-school charm, not new and updated by any means, but hey, major points for showers larger than the typical submarine-like Euro showers you see most places. One thing to keep in mind when renting a Venice apartment is that often the “first level” is actually the second level. Due to the frequent flooding, there are really no residences on the ground floor. The narrow flight of stairs up to the apartment was a little challenging for some in our group (bad knees abound) but we managed. Also keep in mind that Venice is not very handicap accessible, and you will not likely find elevators in any of these apartment buildings.

Okay, on to what we did and, more importantly, where we ate!

Every afternoon in Venice requires a big scoop of gelato!

WHERE WE WENT (AND ATE!)

Ristoteca Oniga

We stopped here for lunch one day (it was recommended by our AirBnB host) and I just have one thing to say about it – calamari. It came as a huge serving and was fried in the lightest, airiest batter. They even fried the arugula they served it over!

The delicious calalmari at Ristoteca Oniga in Venice.

Ca’ Rezzonico

We visited this museum of 18th century Venice per my mom’s request and I have to say I was unexpectedly impressed. It’s basically an old palace that you can walk through with gorgeous frescoes and furniture, different themes in every room. We saw some of the prettiest blown glass chandeliers here!

The beautiful frescoes and blown glass chandeliers at Ca' Rezzonico in Venice, Italy.

Beautiful 16th century furniture at Ca' Rezzonico in Venice, Italy.

A gorgeous blown glass chandelier at Ca' Rezzonico in Venice, Italy.

Ristorante al Gondolieri

We settled on this restaurant after searching Yelp for something on the water very nearby to our apartment (some in the group were a little weary from exploring all day.) Although there was no outdoor seating and there was a small miscommunication with our reservation, the servers were incredibly nice to accommodate us and I must say the food was amazing. A bit pricier than most of our other meals, but in my opinion it was worth it!

Savory chocolate ravioli at Ristorante Al Gondolieri, Venice, Italy.

My simple yet delicious pasta dish at Ristorante Al Gondolieri, Venice, Italy.

The men enjoying their wine at Ristorante Al Gondolieri, Venice, Italy.

Piazza San Marco

Just about everyone knows that this is a must-visit for anyone visiting Venice. Piazza San Marco is home to the Basilica di San Marco, one of the most beautiful cathedrals I have ever seen, and also the Campanile di San Marco (the square’s massive bell tower) and the futuristic (for its time) Clock Tower. Two tips when visiting this area:

  1. Don’t plan on eating in the square unless you want to blow your entire vacation dining budget (we’re talking orange juice that costs 15 Euros.)
  2. Be sure to visit the Loggia dei Cavalli when touring the Basilica di San Marco. This is the huge terrace that overlooks the entire square and is flanked by a herd of bronze horses. Truly breathtaking!

Admiring the view from the Loggia dei Cavalli at the Basilica di San Marco in Venice, Italy.

Looking up at the Loggia dei Cavalli at the Basilica di San Marco, Venice, Italy.

View from the Loggia dei Cavalli at the Basilica di San Marco, Venice, Italy.

Aside from these highlights, we really just wandered around, stopping to eat gelato, shop, and pop into random places that caught our eye whenever we felt like it. Cappucinos and doughnuts/croissants every morning were a “must” as well.

Doughnuts and croissants, the breakfast staple in Venice!

Cappucinos are the way to go when in Venice!

One thing I would say about Venice (which you may guess from my recap) is to not go into it with a strict schedule. We planned to arrive at Piazza San Marco right when the Basilica opened so we wouldn’t have the WORST crowds or have to stand in an ultra-long line, but that was really the only thing we had planned. It’s such a busy city with so much going on that sometimes it’s best to just go with the flow and see where the wind (haha I just accidentally typed wine) takes you.

View of Venice from the water taxi on the way to the airport.

The hubby enjoying a Venetian spritz, the classic aperitif of Venice!

Classic bridge shot of the hubby and I over the canals of Venice, Italy.

Tell me, have you been to Venice before? What did we miss?

Pineapple Orgeat Fizz

Time to break out the summer cocktails and mocktails!

A refreshing Pineapple Orgeat Fizz that can be made with or without alcohol. The perfect drink for summer!

Don’t get me wrong, I love my spring drinks featuring rhubarb and cherries just as much as the next person, but as soon as Memorial Day passes, I start thinking about all things refreshing and summer-y. Like this Pineapple Orgeat Fizz! OMG you guys, I’m pretty excited about this. And not because it tastes just as good as a mocktail as it does a cocktail.


I was first introduced to the idea of a non-alcoholic Orgeat Fizz (which utilizes lemon instead of pineapple) when I was in my first trimester and still trying to hide the fact that I was pregnant from most of the general public. I had a networking get-together with some local blogger babes at Santa Barbara’s one and only tiki bar (yes, we have a neighborhood tiki bar, fancy that!) and quietly asked the bartender to whip me up his favorite mocktail. He proceeded to fill a sufficiently iced glass with fresh lemon juice, orgeat and soda water. So easy and soooo delicious.

A single glass of the refreshing Pineapple Orgeat Fizz.

Now I know some of you are wondering what the heck orgeat is, so let me fill you in. Orgeat is basically liquid marzipan. It’s a creamy white cocktail mixer that you’ll easily find at your local BevMo next to all of your other mixers, bitters, etc. (or on Amazon.) It’s perhaps most famously added as a discreet ingredient in mai tai’s, but can be used in so many other delicious ways as well, like these Grapefruit Coladas on the Rocks.

So because of my recent summer obsession (and my desire to now post both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages due to my current preggo state) I decided to do a little riff on the classic Orgeat Fizz and completely “summer-fy” it!

One of my absolute favorite summer fruits is pineapple. I could probably easily eat an entire one by myself if I didn’t care about inflaming all of my taste buds from all of the acidity. I most definitely picked up two whole pineapples for our trip to Tahoe this weekend and I’m pretty sure I ate at least 75% of it by myself. Is it a valid excuse if I say it was because Baby Girl liked it?

Anywho, maybe it’s just been on my brain lately but I thought pineapple would be the perfect way to jazz up my Orgeat Fizz. And we all know that pineapple’s tropical tendencies make it a natural pairing for rum, so I knew right away how I was going to booze this Pineapple Orgeat Fizz up for all of you out there who can still imbibe (luckies!)

A landscape shot of two icy cold Pineapple Orgeat Fizzes. The perfect cocktail or mocktail for summer!

Aside from the aforementioned pineapple juice, orgeat and club soda, there’s just one more ingredient that really puts BOTH of these drinks (cocktail or mocktail) over the top, and that’s just a little squeeze of fresh lime juice, adding just the perfect touch of acidity.

Now if a Pineapple Orgeat Fizz isn’t the perfect summer drink, please tell me what is? I mean, I’m even going to venture out there and guess that children not yet of drinking age will be downing these at your next pool party. With all of that yummy flavor going on in there, who can blame them?

An overhead shot of two Pineapple Orgeat Fizzes.

I hope you all have some fun and exciting plans for this first “unofficial” summer weekend of June. We’ve got a fundraiser to attend on Saturday and a birthday party to attend on Sunday, so we’ll just be partying all weekend. And you can bet I’ll have a Pineapple Orgeat Fizz in hand!

This post contains affiliate links. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you for continuing to support the brands that make CaliGirl Cooking possible!

A refreshing Pineapple Orgeat Fizz that can be made with or without alcohol. The perfect drink for summer!
Print
Pineapple Orgeat Fizz
Prep Time
5 mins
 

A refreshing summer cocktail full of tropical pineapple, lime and almond flavors that's just as delicious with alcohol as it is without!

Course: Drinks
Servings: 1 cocktail
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 3/4 ounce orgeat
  • 2 ounces pineapple juice
  • 4 ounces club soda
  • Juice of 1/4 lime
  • 1 1/2 ounces of your favorite rum (optional)
  • Pineapple wedge to garnish
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients in a tall glass filled with crushed ice. Stir to combine and garnish with a pineapple wedge.

Pineapple Orgeat Fizz | CaliGirlCooking.com