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Archive for May, 2010

Serious

It’s been quite the serious weekend around the house.

I did some serious grocery shopping and filled my refrigerator with lots of vegetables and fruits and yogurt.

I bought a serious hanging basket filled with strawberry plants. It filled my heart with happiness when I found it. I’ve always wanted to plant strawberries, but I just never felt I had enough room. Now, they’ll grow outside my back door.

I also bought some serious vegetable plants to put into the remaining space in my garden. Green beans, brussels sprouts, and a few herbs that I long to have all summer long.

One very serious Scottish Terrier took it upon himself to keep the plants safe and sound. “None shall pass!” He’ll have none of your tomfoolery. Just you try to touch those beans. It’ll be over, pal.

I made some delicious Maple-Bacon Oatmeal Whoopie Pies using this seriously expensive pure maple syrup and this less expensive but hard to find maple flavoring.

Hence why I look so seriously sweaty and miserable in my SO SO SO hot kitchen. 88 degrees outside. 900 degrees in that kitchen!

Unfortunately, I ended up spending even more time in there because I seriously needed to organize my baking cabinet. I took some pictures of it. I didn’t organize it. Maybe, sometime soon, when I have AC, I’ll tackle that project. For now? No dice

And now, I’m going to read some seriously lengthy applications for the open positions in my department. No cooking today. It’s too hot. The graham crackers? The marshmallows? The chocolate chip cookies for my neighbor? Not today. Today, I’ll work. You know why? I can read in the heat and still be functional. I cannot bake in the heat and not feel like I’m hung over the next day.

Seriously.

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This weekend is my first totally unfilled weekend in a long, long time. It’s also going to be my last totally unfilled weekend for a while. We have Memorial Day coming up, my sister’s college graduation party, Baby Sofie’s first birthday party, Jacob’s graduation party, my parents’ 30th wedding anniversary, my 30th birthday (do the math, people)…

I might actually have at least one thing planned per weekend from now until the end of July.

Terrifying.

Of course, the one weekend I have completely free is another one of the weekends that Shannon is working. I’ll be left up to my own devices for a full 48 hours. Okay, not all 48 hours, but a good enough chunk for me to feel comfortable exaggerating.

So what to do?

Cook. And garden. What else, right? You’re starting to see a trend in my life, aren’t you?

I’ll also manage to run at least one of the two days. I need to make sure I get a run in so that I’m not panting and gasping when I’m trying to run that 5K in June.

Gardening is simple – I need to weed the garden. Enough said.

Cooking is a bit more of a challenge for me. We’ll be having a semi-celebratory dinner on Saturday night. For what? I’ll tell you when it’s official. For said celebratory dinner, we’ll be having homemade pizza, salad, and, most likely, some homemade berry shortcake. Keep your eyes peeled for the berry shortcake recipe. I’m hoping it’ll be a tasty one.

I also have some homemade marshmallows to make. And graham crackers.

Shannon is demanding that I make him whoopie pies. Specifically, maple-bacon filled whoopie pies.

I would also like to whip up those Mexican breakfast sandwich thingies I said I was going to make a few weeks ago. 

Oh…and I need to make our neighbor chocolate chip cookies for allowing us to borrow her lawn mower twice while ours wasn’t working. And for mowing the front lawn just because she rocks.

Whew! I have quite the list. Hopefully, I can check off a few of those little projects.

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Yesterday, I ran a 5K. My first 5K, actually. And you know what?

I was pretty darned happy with the results.

I set a personal record for my fastest time of 34:13. If you do the math, that means I was running somewhere in the vicinity of an 11-minute mile. What?! Really?! So true. Plus, I placed 262 in the run. It doesn’t sound too spectacular. Until you know that there were 579 runners. Not too shabby for my first time out. Not too shabby at all.

Now that I’ve accomplished this goal for myself, I’m taking on the Susan G. Komen 5K on June 12 with my baby sister. We’re going to run for our mom. Our mom who is a 25-year breast cancer survivor. I don’t think there’s any better reason to run.

We’ll be getting back to our regularly scheduled cooking and sharing shortly. I just had to get that little bit of running out of my system! What an accomplishment…and on a Saturday no less!

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Roasted Garlic

I’m a big fan of garlic. A big, big fan. A big enough fan that I will risk offending people with garlic breath in the search for its perfect use in a pasta dish. It takes dedication to be such a fan.

I also like roasted garlic. It’s wonderful spread on french bread to make garlic bread. It gives mashed potatoes a kick. And it’s fabulous mixed into meat when you’re making hamburgers or meatballs. Delicious!

We used the bulb above mixed into some extra lean ground beef with a tablespoon of fresh rosemary to make some mean garlic rosemary burgers. Boy were they good. I suggest roasting up some garlic for yourself ASAP.

Roasted Garlic

1 bulb fresh garlic
1/4 teaspoon olive oil

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Cut the top off a bulb of garlic to expose the very tops of the cloves. Brush with olive oil.

Wrap the bulb of garlic in aluminum foil, and place in preheated oven. Allow to roast for 1 hour.

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Chocolate, meet Ancho Chili. Ancho, please play nice with Chocolate; she can be a bit of a drama queen from time to time. Especially when she’s not the only star in a recipe. You know how that goes…

Avocado, this is Powdered Sugar. Powdered Sugar, this is Avocado. Come on, give each other a hug. There you go! Aren’t you two glad you met? You know who’s glad you met? I’m glad you met. I’m really, really glad you met.

I’ve been on an avocado kick for a while now. If you’ve been stopping by, you know this because I reference guacamole at least twice a week, and I post pictures of Mr. Shannon going insane on breakfast sandwiches when left unattended with my stash of avocados. In my house, the avocado is certainly reigning supreme at the moment, and I thought it was about time we allowed it to step out of the guacamole/sandwich/salad categories and into the realm of desserts.

You heard me, desserts. Everyone likes to feel pretty sometimes. It’s about time avocado was given a chance to shine. And you know what? Avocado shined. Oh, did it shine. With a little help from Chocolate and her new friend Ancho, that is.

Ancho-Spiced Chocolate Cupcakes with Avocado Buttercream
Serves 16

For the cupcakes:
1 1/3 cup unbleached flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon ancho chili powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter, softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/8 cups buttermilk

For the buttercream frosting:
1 cup avocado meat
2 teaspoons lime juice
4 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a muffin tin with paper or foil liners.

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa, ancho chili powder, cayenne and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat well. Add the vanilla and combine.

Add the flour mixture in 1/4 increments making sure to alternate with the buttermilk. End with the last of the buttermilk. Beat until well combined.

Fill each of the muffin cups 2/3 full of batter. Bake for 17 – 19 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cupcake comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.

In the meantime, peel and pit a large avocado. Place the avocado in a bowl and combine with lime juice. Beat until the color lightens and the mixture becomes mostly smooth. Add the powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time making sure to fully combine before adding the next batch of powdered sugar. Add the vanilla extract.

At this point, the frosting will most likely appear too thick. Add 1 tablespoon of buttermilk to smooth and thin the mixture just slightly. If you won’t use the buttercream immediately, store it in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Top each cupcake with your desired amount of buttercream frosting and enjoy!

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Since yesterday was Mother’s Day, I made my mom Stuffed French Toast for breakfast. It was delightful.

And I think everyone needs to know that this recipe not only exists, but it is delicious. So get your tush over to The Tasty Kitchen and check it.

I’ll even make it easy for you. Click here.

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Strawberry Rhubarb Sauce

I’m a sucker for a good strawberry rhubarb pie. Even though I know people are divided when it comes to the sweet and tangy pie, I’m an addict. When I lived in Rolla back in 2004, my favorite little mom and pop place, A Slice of Pie, had a mean strawberry rhubarb. I may have gained a million pounds going there. Maybe.

Since I try to avoid sticking pie to my thighs these days, I’ve had to find some way to get the same flavor combination with fewer calories. Luckily, I stumbled upon a recipe that does just that. It’s as if the strawberry rhubarb gods were shining on me.

Strawberry Rhubarb Sauce
Adapted slightly from Weight Watchers.com
Servings 4
Points 1

1/4 cup water
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup rhubarb, frozen or fresh, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 cups strawberries, sliced
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 dash cinnamon

Combine the water and sugar in a small sauce pan. Bring the mixture to a boil and continue to boil for three minutes.

Reduce heat and add rhubarb. Simmer for three minutes. Stir in strawberries and allow to simmer one more minute. Remove from heat and add lemon juice and a dash of cinnamon.

You can serve this sauce however you’d like including straight out of the sauce pan. I prefer to drizzle mine over angel food cake. I posted that recipe earlier this week. How convenient, right?

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