Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Cupcakes in Mason Rings

Many of you know that I spent the weekend throwing my sister a special party. One of the things I was supposed to make on Friday were the Almond Maple cupcakes (using my maple cake recipe and adding organic almond extract) but I was too tired. Come Saturday morning, twelve hours before the party, I was making a double batch and suddenly realizing that my four muffin pans would not be enough for all the batter. Since the batter uses baking powder (which I was out of and had to use a 1:1 recipe of baking soda: cream of tarter replacement), leaving the batter resting can keep the cupcakes from rising. I called around trying to find another two pans when I remembered reading somewhere that I could use mason jar rings.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Stuffed Pork Chops (in less than 30 minutes)

One of the perks of raising your own pigs is getting to decide exactly how they are cut. We decided on thicker pork chops so that we didn't have to remove the bone on one side. This has been absolutely fantastic. The chops stay nice and moist and we all get a healthy serving of vitamin and mineral rich fat. (If you have extra time, check out this fascinating article regarding food from Mother Earth News. The article contains some interesting information regarding grass-fed animals.)

Back to the pigs! There are so many ways to cook pork chops but I have found that I love Jamie Oliver's method the best. I was reading one of the Best of The Best cookbooks put out by Food & Wine magazine and came across a description of what to put in pork chops. I tried it that night and it was delicious. I have made it dozens of times since and really recommend it.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Maple Syrup Brownies

My long time readers already know all about my brownie confession. In case you missed it, the gist is that I like cakey brownies. I have no use or desire for fudgy and chewy brownies. Here's the other thing, I really don't believe you should eat your way to happiness but I can also tell you that some times a little chocolate really does make the world a better place. As a friend once told me, you bring your own weather to the picnic. Words to live by for sure but some days, a little chocolate makes a huge difference. Maybe I can blame it on pregnancy but then I would have to find another reason after the baby is born so let's just call a spade a spade and agree that chocolate is a delightful treat that has the ability to boost my mood.

Today I wanted something warm and chocolate but hot chocolate didn't have enough sustenance. I have some delicious chocolate truffles but I really was looking more for a comfort food. What's an easy, chocolatey comfort dessert? Brownies of course.

Since my kids were testing my sanity, I was more than happy to make some brownies that we could all enjoy together. Hello Google, let's see what recipes we can find together.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Natural Egg Dye by Natural Earth Paint

Last year we didn't dye eggs for the holiday. Well, I tried to make some homemade dye with cabbage. It didn't work so well. So this past winter when I saw that Natural Earth Paint's Natural Egg Dyes Kit on sale at a discount site, I promptly ordered it. Did it matter that it came before Christmas? Not one stinkin' bit! Since I couldn't make my own dye very well, I needed to find another way.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Bee's Wrap Review

Do you use Cling Wrap? Me neither. It is something I don't ever buy and don't believe in. Some how though a roll of it always appears in my drawer, usually after a gathering that includes my mother-in-law.

There are occasions though that I want something like it. I have seen the great ideas that are floating around Pinterest regarding making your own with organic fabric and beeswax. The requirement? Either pre-grated beeswax pellets or a cheese grater to be used for beeswax only. I only have one grater and I am not sure I want to buy another one (like at the Goodwill) just for craft projects. This has been especially true since I have been trying to get rid of things I don't use regularly. Would it really hurt me to have one? No. Perhaps once we start having our own bees I will keep on on hand but for now, I just haven't gotten around to it.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Notes From A Blue Bike

Some people have seen and commented on our cleared kitchen counters and asked why? Then asked what prompted it. It started with Notes from a Blue Bike. I honestly cannot remember why I requested it at the library, I know that I saw a post by the author about something and then noticed that she had published a few books. I checked the library: Organized Simplicity and Notes from a Blue Bike so I requested them both. Notes from a Blue Bike came in first. The subtitle, The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic World, really peaked my interest prompted me to give it my attention before the other books that I signed out. It was mid-January and let's be honest, everyone wants to start the year out feeling like "this year I will accomplish more than last year" or something similar. Being pregnant, with the house in chaos most of the time, having more free time due to not working and wanting to make more time to spend with the kids doing things more intentionally this book was like a sign. I picked it up and didn't stop.

Friday, March 20, 2015

40 Minute Brioche Rolls (Hamburger Rolls)

I love hamburgers. Seriously, medium rare (yes I miss these when I am pregnant!) on a bun with tomato, cheese, maybe a little lettuce. I have been known to eat them with barbecue sauce when I am not nursing, or with pickles. I love a good, juicy burger. The key? Great meat. The second most important thing? A good bun. Before kids we would eat the store bought ones but they never measure up to the buns you get when you go to a good burger joint. Now I make buns. It took a while but I finally found the perfect hamburger bun recipe. The best part? These rolls are just as amazing the next day for chicken salad or just toasted with a little butter and jam for an afternoon snack.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Chicken and Egg

Happy St. Patrick's Day to the many of you who celebrate. Unfortunately there will be no recipes for green eggs and ham today but there are a lot of egg recipes to be found in Chicken and Egg by Janice Cole.

For Christmas I got an amazing pasta book from my sister: Making Artisan Pasta. In fact, the book was so perfect for me that my in-laws got me the same book. Since I didn't need two copies, I returned one copy to Amazon and received a credit. Two of the books I ordered in exchange were Chicken and Egg and The Good Egg. I put off reading it for a while but once I decided to clean out my cookbooks, I decided that owning so many egg cookbooks was probably unnecessary. I already owned Eggs and The Fresh Egg Cookbook before the holidays and four books on cooking eggs seemed a bit much. Chicken and Egg is shorter than The Good Egg, I decided to start with Chicken and Egg.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Sunshine and Coconut Muffins

Have I mentioned that I recently purchased a distressed bag of organic, unsweetened shredded coconut? Or how much I love coconut? I tend to add it to a lot of recipes such as bread or scones because I like it. I am though, quite a lazy coconut lover because I never think to toast it until midway through the recipe. Needless to say, the other morning when I really wanted some muffins I started looking for a quick coconut muffin recipe. I found a recipe at Teeny Cakes but modified it so much that it doesn't look anything like the original recipe.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Buttermilk Scones with Honey

Many of you asked for the recipe I used for my scones so last week I published the recipe for these same scones using maple syrup. I had been wanting to see if I could make it work with honey though since it seems that sap season is never coming this year and we are starting to run short on maple syrup. Plus maple syrup tends to add a specific flavor that while I love it, not all people do. Last week, after making butter, L1 and I gave the honey recipe a try. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I couldn't really taste the honey and that they were a little fluffier than with maple syrup. It makes sense since honey is twice as sweet and therefore doesn't require as much extra liquid as the maple syrup version. I made the first batch with chocolate chips because that was what L1 wanted but I think next time orange zest will be added perhaps with a some dried pineapple for a taste of sunshine.