Spring Garden Cupcakes

March 8th, 2016

Full disclosure – I didn’t make this or think of it. These Spring cupcakes were the project for Spencer’s final 4H Intro to Baking class. They’re so cute, I couldn’t resist posting them. I don’t have the exact recipe, but I know enough to explain how to recreate them.

easter spring garden

They made a basic chocolate cupcake (from a mix or I love this one from Martha Stewart) and frosted the cupcakes with chocolate buttercream and topped with crumbled chocolate graham crackers (crushed chocolate wafer cookies could also be used). The basic idea for the cupcake is a dirt cake/cupcake, but topped with a strawberry dipped in orange candy melts to look like a carrot. (I imagine dyed white chocolate could also be used.)

Garden Carrots

 

To make the “carrots,” follow the directions on the candy melts, but basically you melt the candy melts over low heat, dip the strawberries in and then let them cool on wax paper.

Truman has an egg allergy so Easter is one of the trickier holidays. An egg free alternative to the cupcake is just placing the dipped strawberries on some shredded coconut, you could also dye the shredded coconut green if you wanted more of an easter grass feel.

I had a hard time keeping Spencer’s hands off of the cupcake. He was not pleased I wanted to take photos, making the wait time even longer. “Mo-oooom, I just want to pick the carrot. I made it.”

IMG_6984

 

Special thanks to Annette, and 4H baking. If you ever see this, thanks for the idea! And sorry about the photos, Spencer barely let me take photos with my phone, let alone get the camera out or set anything up. And yes, the cupcake is a little smooshed and lopsided. It was made by a 6 year old! Looks pretty good to me!

Amazon affiliate links were used in this post. All of you pennies, they will be mine.

Tomato and Bacon Soup (pressure cooker)

January 14th, 2016

Whole30 and Paleo friendly

Paleo Whole 30 tomato bacon soup instant pot

My first pressure cooker/instant pot recipe! I am by now means an expert but there are lots of blog posts out there with tips. I wouldn’t normally post a recipe using such new (to me) equipment, but this recipe for a Whole 30 and paleo-friendly tomato bacon soup SO GOOD that I had to share.

The smokey flavor is really strong in this soup, it makes a non-dairy tomato soup taste so full and rich. It’s great. A little cup of leftover soup would go great with eggs in the morning, too.

Ingredients

  • 1 slice thick cut bacon (or some prosciutto or pancetta), chopped
  • 20 ounce can of whole tomatoes (no sugar added)
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, chopped in to 4 pieces or so
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled (whole or chopped)
  • 4 cups water or chicken stock
  • 3 fresh basil leaves (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
  • smoked salt, to taste (about a teaspoon during cooking, more to finish) or sea salt

Equipment

  • pressure cooker (I used an instant pot, adjust cooking times for stovetop)
  • immersion blender or blender

Directions:

  1. Add the chopped bacon to a small pan and turn the heat to low/medium low (you can use the saute function on an instant pot, but I wanted to keep the heat real low and not brown the onions). You want to begin to melt the fat of the bacon without it getting crispy.
  2. When there is a nice coating of bacon fat on the bottom of the pan, add the onions. Cook until onions are translucent, trying not to brown them too much. About 10 min. Stir occasionally.
  3. Add the onion bacon mixture and the remaining ingredients to the pressure cooker.
  4. Cook using the soup function and either vent naturally or manually. (Please follow all pre-cooking safety checks per your user manual as well as proper venting procedure.)
  5. When soup is finished, blend with an immersion blender (or a regular blender, just don’t fill it too full!) to a mostly smooth texture.
  6. Garnish and serve!

Garnish ideas: chopped fresh basil, sliced green onions, coconut cream swirl, roasted pumpkin seeds (Or if you eat dairy try a little grated cheese or sour cream)

Note: I bet this could be made just as deliciously on the stove top or with a slow cooker, just cook it long and low and really allow the smokey bacon flavor to permeate the soup.

IMG_6251

2016 Goals by the Numbers

January 7th, 2016

There is an old saying that doctors make the worse patients. I think that must also hold true for (former) performance improvement specialists. I can improve anyone but myself… One of the adages in the industry is that it is better to set hard but achievable goals rather than easy to meet low hanging fruit goals. Why try and improve something by 5% when you can go for 25%?

I am taking that approach with goals for the year. My word per a facebook poll was change, so change it will be. I hope that having so many goals and things to do will keep me busy and on track. I’ll set up a page per goal to help myself keep track. I don’t think I’ll blog anything unless it is super noteworthy. Well, I will blog the blog posts that are part of goal #3. They might be book reviews in conjunction with goal #1.

Goals:

  1. Finish reading 52 books by female authors. (Any book completed for the first time in 2016 counts, regardless of when I started the book.)
  2. Try 52 new recipes. Maybe this is the year I will finally master the lamb chop. But this is recipes, not try 52 new through random stuff in a pans. I feel like our meals are getting boring because my basic skills are getting rusty.
  3. Write and publish 52 blog posts.
  4. Complete 1 whole 30.
  5. Get outside with my camera on a non holiday 12 times.

 

We. Will. See.

 

IMG_5262

New Year. New Snow.

 

Year in Review | Year in Preview

December 31st, 2015

I was going to write up a little recap of 2015, but I changed my mind. I was not a fan of 2015. I’m just going to throw a match, close the door on the year and run like hell. Boom.

I did two different find out what your word of 2016 should be things and got the same word: change. Admittedly, they might use the same algorithm but a different click bait link, but I’ll still take it as a sign. Anything to not end next year like this one.

Leap years were always my favorite. So many good things – an extra day! Olympics! Presidential elections! And then 2004 came around and ruined everything. Now that it is, I don’t know, TWELVE years later, I think it’s time to stop letting a single bad year hang over my head.

I am making piles of resolutions this year. PILES. And I am going to keep them. Because they are dorky and number based. And I am telling YOU my fearless, but only, reader. And that might keep me honest.

via GIPHY

Maybe

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