Saturday, February 26, 2011

Blueberry Almond Muffins--a healthy and easy breakfast!

Have you ever been to a Penzey's Spices store?  If you haven't, there is probably one in a city near you.  Penzey's sells an abundance of spices, seasonings, and baking flavorings that leave your mouth watering.  After a trip there you just want to hop into the kitchen and create something new.

If you're me, though, you will probably want some sort of recipe to guide you along the way.  Thankfully, Penzey's has recipes posted around different spices so you can take them home to try.  Last time I was there, I was buying some vanilla.  Above that area was a recipe for blueberry almond muffins.  I decided to whip them up for a visit from my friend Megan.

The recipe includes lots of healthy ingredients like bran, flaxseed, and whole wheat flour.  This won over the hubby who is rarely found eating anything other than oatmeal for breakfast.

Try these out for your next morning brunch.  I thought they were definite winners!


Mixing up the dry ingredients-flour, whole wheat flour, oat bran, flaxseed meal, sugar, salt, baking powder

Adding the liquid ingredients--butter, eggs, milk, vanilla

Look at these beauties--this batch is actually made with raspberries instead of blueberries--yummy!

Golden and delicious!


A breakfast tray just waiting for some muffins!

The star of breakfast!


Despite having a lot of "grains" in them, they are actually quite moist!
Here is the first batch I made with blueberries--also very good!


Word to the wise: don't overmix!




So there you have it, folks, a delicious and healthy way to start your day!  I loved them and so did my guests!

Here's the recipe:

Blueberry Almond Muffins (Compliments of Judy Orr, a Penzey's Spices customer)

1/2 cup all-purpose white flour
3/4 cup white whole wheat flour (I used regular)
1/2 cup oat bran
1/4 cup flaxseed meal
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
3.4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
4 TB. butter, melted
3/4 cup skim milk
1/2 tsp. almond extract
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup blueberries (you can use frozen)
1/2 cup sliced almonds
2-4 TB sunflower seeds for the top (optional)

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Stir the dry ingredients together in a medium bowl.  Make a well in the middle.  Sin a separate bowl, stir together the melted butter, milk, almond extract, vanilla extract, and eggs.  Pour into the well and combine the liquid and dry ingredients with a few swift strokes- approx. 10-20 seconds.  Don't overmix.  Gently fold in the blueberries and almonds.  Divide the batter evenly among 14 muffin cups (use liners).  Top with a light sprinkling of sunflower seeds.  Bake until muffins are golden brown, 25-27 minutes.  Remove from pans after about 5 minutes.  Serve them warm or freeze for later and enjoy!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The new staple--Sweet potato and black bean tacos

Hello all!  I just had to share with you the latest and most enjoyed mealtime staple in our house.  I got the idea to make sweet potato tacos from an issue of Health Magazine I was reading on an airplane over the holidays.  Although I didn't keep the magazine, the idea of the flavors in black beans and sweet potatoes melding into a taco appealed to me.

Soooo, when Jaime was still off on all his holiday travels, I decided to try them.  Since the first try I have added some things and subtracted some, but the basis is still there.  Great flavors for healthy and filling tacos.

Here's what you need:
-1-2 large sweet potatoes
-1 can of black beans
-around a cup of cooked brown (or white) rice
-seasonings of your choice (I use salt, pepper, and Mrs. Dash, but cumin would probably add a nice kick!)
-corn tortilla shells
-salsa (if you wish)
-sour cream (if you're feeling naughty)

So, here's a snapshot of how I put these together at my house.  Believe me, you will love these--and you will probably eat four of them in one sitting!


First, don't forget to make some of your wonderful baked brown rice!  It is delish!

Start by washing and peeling your sweet potato(s)

Dice them up pretty small.  This way they will cook quickly and fit in your taco shells

Add some oil to a hot skilled and begin to saute the potatoes until they are tender

Open up a can of delicious black beans or whatever type of beans you like 

Add them to your potatoes, along with some salt, pepper, and seasonings (I have some garlic in here)

Add your cooked brown rice.  This really bolsters up the tacos--adding some filling fiber.

While the tacos are warming up, go ahead and warm some corn tortillas on a skillet.  When I say warm, I mean really warm them.  Jaime is the only one in our house who has the patience to do it--they have to have a little char on them.  SO GOOD!

If you wanna, go ahead and chop some tomatoes and some onion (we had red onion in the freezer)

Add some cilantro, lime juice, and salt and pepper.  Instant salsa!

Prepare your tortillas.  This is Jaime's technique he learned from his friend Maria.  All tacos remain intact after filling.  Genius!

Add your filling and your salsa.  Perfection.  Enjoy them!

So, that's it, folks.  Delicious, easy tacos that are healthy, too.  What more could you ask for?  Not much!  Now get into the kitchen and enjoy!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Playtime Baby Blanket

My friends Meagan and Mike (Miguel) are having a baby in a few weeks, and if there is one thing I learned from hanging with my baby niece, Ella, is that these kiddie kats like to be on the floor.  What I also learned is Moms and Pops like it when their babies want to be on the floor, because it gives them a break from rocking, nursing, snuggling, and entertaining baby.  Not that these things aren't great, but hey, being self-sufficient is the goal right, so why not start 'em early?   Anyway, I made M&M a quilted blanket that was a bit heavier to withstand some serious baby floor work. 

The lovely Meagan Marie with her baby's blanket.  Doesn't she look pretty?
I got the inspiration for this blanket from my domestic idol Lotta Jansdotter.  Her book Simple Sewing for Baby had been passed around the Test-Nest households as we prepared for baby Ella to arrive.  I'm going to save how awesome this book (and her others) is for another post dedicated to Ms. Jansdotter's work, but if you want to be inspired you can't go wrong with a Lotta Jansdotter book.  


Anywho, I took some liberties with Lotta's pattern, which I think she would appreciate.  I made the blanket a bit bigger, by making five 8" high strips that were about 40" long.  I didn't buy fabric for the top of this, just pretty scraps that allowed me to reminisce about past projects.  The width sizing for each block was random, but I love how I used some bigger strips, particularly of the blue Irving Street Flannel by Erin McMorris, it's like a real sky line!  I used a little mixed media action on this by mixing cottons and flannel fabrics together.  Babies seem to like feeling things, so maybe Baby McGarry will like the contrast.  Keep me updated on that one, Meagan. 

Quilted blocks.  Love it!  

The back of this blanket was created with of my favorite fabrics by Anna Maria Horner.  I always loved this fabric, which looks like big stacks of books, but never knew what I could use it for.  When I found this on sale and with similar colors to the top of the blanket, I knew I had found my match.

Cutting out the backing and the inner batting.

What made this quilt/blanket so easy is that I didn't bind it (thank you, Lotta).  I just sewed the batting, backing and top together.  I left an opening so I could flip it right side out after I trimmed the edges and corners.  TIP: Always sew with the batting facing up.  If not, those feed dogs (yes that is what they are called) pull on the batting stretching it in all sorts of wonky ways.   TIP 2: Before you trim and flip the blanket right side out, spend the time to make sure you caught all three layers in your stitching.  It is much easier to fix at this point. 

Corner and edge trims


As for quilting the blanket, I did a top stitch around the edges, and then I "stitched in the ditch," which means I stitched where the blocks of fabric were stitched together. 

Stitching seams from the back.
So that is that.  This is a great first time quilting project for all of you out there considering such an undertaking.   I had such fun doing this, I have another one ready for the next baby that is coming along.  I also think it would be nice to make a colorful throw for the couch to help keep toes warm and kitties content. 

Thursday, February 17, 2011

County Fair, County Fair, A Down Home Feelin' in the Air!

Yep, it's time for Blue Ribbon Carrot Cake!

So, it got up to 64 degrees today in Nebraska and people were out in their shorts and tank tops, therefore I felt I needed to whip up some blue ribbon carrot cake to get into the warm weather spirit.  And what says warm weather better than a county fair. Yee haw.

Well, it's no joke that I won the blue ribbon at the Boone County Fair two years ago with this delicious Carrot Cake recipe.  And I won myself the grand prize of twenty five dollars.  That's right twenty five dollars.  I couldn't believe the prize money for carrot cake, most people win five bucks or a free haircut.  My prize was high class and because of that I made a seriously delectable cake. (the key ingredient ain't the carrots, honey, it's the cream cheese frosting, whoopie!)  Ummm, let's get to it then so you can whip yourself up one before the weather turns cold again.


To begin, you will need about 3 cups of  shredded carrots.  I recommend using a food processor to do this, but if yours is broken like mine, start working those wrist muscles and grate it out.

You've prepared your carrots, then you set them aside for later.  Now, you must beat together the sugar, oil and eggs.  That doesn't look to appetizing here, but it gets better...

Add the dry ingredients, including flour, soda, salt and cinnamon (love it!).

Mix it all together

Try to take a classy picture with your camera...which actually turns out kind of weird.  

Beat in the shredded carrots that you worked so hard to grate.

Place it in a greased pan.

And bake it right up to send to the county fair. Yee haw!
Delectable indeed.  The cream cheese frosting gets the judges every time!

And there you have it, a blue ribbon winner. Try it out and you'll love it.  And you'll be eating healthy with all those carrots in there, well...sort of.

Check out the recipe below.  This is an old Betty Crocker Classic.

Cake
1 1/2cups granulated sugar
1cup vegetable oil
3eggs
2cups all-purpose flour
2teaspoons ground cinnamon
1teaspoon baking soda
1teaspoon vanilla
1/2teaspoon salt
3cups shredded carrots (5 medium)
1cup coarsely chopped walnuts (optional)
1package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
1/4cup butter or margarine, softened
2to 3 teaspoons milk
1teaspoon vanilla
4cups powdered sugar
Print these coupons...
About Concordance™

  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease bottom and sides of one 13x9-inch pan or two 8-inch or 9-inch round pans with shortening; lightly flour. In large bowl, beat granulated sugar, oil and eggs with electric mixer on low speed about 30 seconds or until blended. Add flour, cinnamon, baking soda, 1 teaspoon vanilla and the salt; beat on low speed 1 minute. Stir in carrots and nuts. Pour into pan(s).
  2. Bake 13x9-inch pan 40 to 45 minutes, round pans 30 to 35 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool rectangle in pan on cooling rack. Cool rounds 10 minutes; remove from pans to cooling rack. Cool completely, about 1 hour.
  3. In medium bowl, beat cream cheese, butter, milk and vanilla with electric mixer on low speed until smooth. Gradually beat in powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, on low speed until smooth and spreadable. Frost 13x9-inch cake or fill and frost round layers with frosting. Store in refrigerator.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Steaks Sizzle on Valentine's Day

 So yesterday was Valentine's Day, the most romantic day of the year . . . sure.  If you know me, you know that I dislike the following actions very much a) sitting on the same side of the booth as your companion  b) holding hands across the table  c) kissing across the table.   Needless to say going out to eat on this so called romantic day was not an option for me. Instead, I decided to make steaks.  The sexist of all dinners!  I have a sure fire way to make steaks indoors so they turn out juicy, succulent, and delicious every time.  I don't even bother to try and grill steaks any more, because this is the only way to do it.  I'm not kidding, just follow these simple directions. . .



Ingredients:
-Steaks - (in this case I used filets because, hello, I mean buisness and it was Valentine's Day.  I've done this with sirloins and rib eyes too.  (Sirloins good, rib eyes not as good but still not bad.))
-Kosher Salt
-Pepper
That is it, seriously.

Step one - Get it hot!: Get a cast iron skillet or other oven proof skillet nice and hot with about 1 tablespoon of oil.  Turn your oven on to 400 degrees. 

Step two - Season the steaks:  Pat your steaks dry to avoid having them stick to the pan.  Liberally salt and pepper your steaks.  I don't have cracked peppercorns, but I imagine that would be good.

seasoned steaks

Step three - Sear 'em:  In your steamy hot skillet sear your steaks for about 2 minutes per side.  This will lock in the delicious steak juices.

lock in those juices!

Step three - Bake 'em:  Put your skillet (steaks included) in your pre-heated oven.  Let those babies cook until they are to your desired doneness.  We like a medium-rare steak so it didn't take long.  I honestly meant to remember the exact number of minutes it took, but I forgot.  I will let you know next time.  Or if you try it, leave a comment. :)

Step four - Eat 'em:  While eating these steaks, coversation doesn't go much farther than how delicious these are.  No joke.

dinner is served

We had some broccoli and a baked potato with our steaks.  They all complimented each other perfectly, and this fancy Valentine's Day meal this took all of 30 minutes to make.  Well, I guess the baked potatoes took an hour to bake, but it didn't require any effort, so I'm not counting it. 

Try it, it will work, you will love them, I promise.

Penny patiently waits for her steak . . . it didn't come.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Cloth Diapers...Airing Out Your Dirty Laundry

Well, the time has finally come for the next in the series of cloth diaper laundering.  You knew you'd have to air out your dirty laundry sometime...so, get your washer rollin' and check out the video below.  Also, if you missed the first in the series, check it out (Cloth Diapers...the essentials).


video


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Put Some Crunch in your Life--Chocolate Chip Biscotti

Hey all, I thought you all might be craving something a little out of the ordinary for me.  I guess you could call this a dignified dessert.  It is, after all, one of those desserts that has to be enjoyed with a warm beverage--coffee, tea, or in my case, hot chocolate.

Yes, biscotti.  This crunchy, munchy, sweet treat can be found in coffee shops and Italian bistros the world over.  I actually only had biscotti for the first time last year.  I am really not into crunchy desserts--they're not my thing.  Give me gooey, soft, and melt in your mouth!!

But, one day when Jaime and I were eating at a great little place in Lincoln called Caffe Italia.  We got one of their wonderful panini sandwiches, and then he ordered a cappuccino.  I also wanted an after lunch snack to enjoy so I got a hot chocolate and a chocolate chip biscotti.

Let me just tell you, my hatred of crunchy desserts disappeared.  After dipping the biscotti in the hot chocolate it was soft and the chocolate melted in my mouth.  The next day, I decided to give biscotti a whirl.

I found this recipe on a nice blog called Half Baked.  The recipe is really simple.  You can check it out using the link.

Here are some photos of the process:

Mixing the dry ingredients--don't mind the cinnamon, you don't even really taste it.

Cut up the butter into half inch pats.  Pat of butter--was that a school lunch line term?  I don't remember.

Cut the butter into the dry ingredients...

Until it is thoroughly combined.

Add liquids and bring it all together with a fork--

and your hands!

The recipe said to divide the dough into four "logs", but if you want the traditionally sized biscotti, I would divide it into two instead.  These turned out like mini-biscotti.  p.s.  Notice the two pans--which one do you think worked better?

After you bake the biscotti logs for the first time, you slice them into, well, slices.

Then you re-bake those slices until they are brown and crunchy.  Notice that I laid mine the wrong way--they should be laying cut side up.

Finished product.  Check out that texture.  Delish!

I was very happy with the finished product of this biscotti.  It was very tasty.  I took it home for the holidays and my dad really liked it.  I think it might be a holiday staple from here on out!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Blueberry Almond Muffins--a healthy and easy breakfast!

Have you ever been to a Penzey's Spices store?  If you haven't, there is probably one in a city near you.  Penzey's sells an abundance of spices, seasonings, and baking flavorings that leave your mouth watering.  After a trip there you just want to hop into the kitchen and create something new.

If you're me, though, you will probably want some sort of recipe to guide you along the way.  Thankfully, Penzey's has recipes posted around different spices so you can take them home to try.  Last time I was there, I was buying some vanilla.  Above that area was a recipe for blueberry almond muffins.  I decided to whip them up for a visit from my friend Megan.

The recipe includes lots of healthy ingredients like bran, flaxseed, and whole wheat flour.  This won over the hubby who is rarely found eating anything other than oatmeal for breakfast.

Try these out for your next morning brunch.  I thought they were definite winners!


Mixing up the dry ingredients-flour, whole wheat flour, oat bran, flaxseed meal, sugar, salt, baking powder

Adding the liquid ingredients--butter, eggs, milk, vanilla

Look at these beauties--this batch is actually made with raspberries instead of blueberries--yummy!

Golden and delicious!


A breakfast tray just waiting for some muffins!

The star of breakfast!


Despite having a lot of "grains" in them, they are actually quite moist!
Here is the first batch I made with blueberries--also very good!


Word to the wise: don't overmix!




So there you have it, folks, a delicious and healthy way to start your day!  I loved them and so did my guests!

Here's the recipe:

Blueberry Almond Muffins (Compliments of Judy Orr, a Penzey's Spices customer)

1/2 cup all-purpose white flour
3/4 cup white whole wheat flour (I used regular)
1/2 cup oat bran
1/4 cup flaxseed meal
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
3.4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
4 TB. butter, melted
3/4 cup skim milk
1/2 tsp. almond extract
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup blueberries (you can use frozen)
1/2 cup sliced almonds
2-4 TB sunflower seeds for the top (optional)

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Stir the dry ingredients together in a medium bowl.  Make a well in the middle.  Sin a separate bowl, stir together the melted butter, milk, almond extract, vanilla extract, and eggs.  Pour into the well and combine the liquid and dry ingredients with a few swift strokes- approx. 10-20 seconds.  Don't overmix.  Gently fold in the blueberries and almonds.  Divide the batter evenly among 14 muffin cups (use liners).  Top with a light sprinkling of sunflower seeds.  Bake until muffins are golden brown, 25-27 minutes.  Remove from pans after about 5 minutes.  Serve them warm or freeze for later and enjoy!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The new staple--Sweet potato and black bean tacos

Hello all!  I just had to share with you the latest and most enjoyed mealtime staple in our house.  I got the idea to make sweet potato tacos from an issue of Health Magazine I was reading on an airplane over the holidays.  Although I didn't keep the magazine, the idea of the flavors in black beans and sweet potatoes melding into a taco appealed to me.

Soooo, when Jaime was still off on all his holiday travels, I decided to try them.  Since the first try I have added some things and subtracted some, but the basis is still there.  Great flavors for healthy and filling tacos.

Here's what you need:
-1-2 large sweet potatoes
-1 can of black beans
-around a cup of cooked brown (or white) rice
-seasonings of your choice (I use salt, pepper, and Mrs. Dash, but cumin would probably add a nice kick!)
-corn tortilla shells
-salsa (if you wish)
-sour cream (if you're feeling naughty)

So, here's a snapshot of how I put these together at my house.  Believe me, you will love these--and you will probably eat four of them in one sitting!


First, don't forget to make some of your wonderful baked brown rice!  It is delish!

Start by washing and peeling your sweet potato(s)

Dice them up pretty small.  This way they will cook quickly and fit in your taco shells

Add some oil to a hot skilled and begin to saute the potatoes until they are tender

Open up a can of delicious black beans or whatever type of beans you like 

Add them to your potatoes, along with some salt, pepper, and seasonings (I have some garlic in here)

Add your cooked brown rice.  This really bolsters up the tacos--adding some filling fiber.

While the tacos are warming up, go ahead and warm some corn tortillas on a skillet.  When I say warm, I mean really warm them.  Jaime is the only one in our house who has the patience to do it--they have to have a little char on them.  SO GOOD!

If you wanna, go ahead and chop some tomatoes and some onion (we had red onion in the freezer)

Add some cilantro, lime juice, and salt and pepper.  Instant salsa!

Prepare your tortillas.  This is Jaime's technique he learned from his friend Maria.  All tacos remain intact after filling.  Genius!

Add your filling and your salsa.  Perfection.  Enjoy them!

So, that's it, folks.  Delicious, easy tacos that are healthy, too.  What more could you ask for?  Not much!  Now get into the kitchen and enjoy!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Playtime Baby Blanket

My friends Meagan and Mike (Miguel) are having a baby in a few weeks, and if there is one thing I learned from hanging with my baby niece, Ella, is that these kiddie kats like to be on the floor.  What I also learned is Moms and Pops like it when their babies want to be on the floor, because it gives them a break from rocking, nursing, snuggling, and entertaining baby.  Not that these things aren't great, but hey, being self-sufficient is the goal right, so why not start 'em early?   Anyway, I made M&M a quilted blanket that was a bit heavier to withstand some serious baby floor work. 

The lovely Meagan Marie with her baby's blanket.  Doesn't she look pretty?
I got the inspiration for this blanket from my domestic idol Lotta Jansdotter.  Her book Simple Sewing for Baby had been passed around the Test-Nest households as we prepared for baby Ella to arrive.  I'm going to save how awesome this book (and her others) is for another post dedicated to Ms. Jansdotter's work, but if you want to be inspired you can't go wrong with a Lotta Jansdotter book.  


Anywho, I took some liberties with Lotta's pattern, which I think she would appreciate.  I made the blanket a bit bigger, by making five 8" high strips that were about 40" long.  I didn't buy fabric for the top of this, just pretty scraps that allowed me to reminisce about past projects.  The width sizing for each block was random, but I love how I used some bigger strips, particularly of the blue Irving Street Flannel by Erin McMorris, it's like a real sky line!  I used a little mixed media action on this by mixing cottons and flannel fabrics together.  Babies seem to like feeling things, so maybe Baby McGarry will like the contrast.  Keep me updated on that one, Meagan. 

Quilted blocks.  Love it!  

The back of this blanket was created with of my favorite fabrics by Anna Maria Horner.  I always loved this fabric, which looks like big stacks of books, but never knew what I could use it for.  When I found this on sale and with similar colors to the top of the blanket, I knew I had found my match.

Cutting out the backing and the inner batting.

What made this quilt/blanket so easy is that I didn't bind it (thank you, Lotta).  I just sewed the batting, backing and top together.  I left an opening so I could flip it right side out after I trimmed the edges and corners.  TIP: Always sew with the batting facing up.  If not, those feed dogs (yes that is what they are called) pull on the batting stretching it in all sorts of wonky ways.   TIP 2: Before you trim and flip the blanket right side out, spend the time to make sure you caught all three layers in your stitching.  It is much easier to fix at this point. 

Corner and edge trims


As for quilting the blanket, I did a top stitch around the edges, and then I "stitched in the ditch," which means I stitched where the blocks of fabric were stitched together. 

Stitching seams from the back.
So that is that.  This is a great first time quilting project for all of you out there considering such an undertaking.   I had such fun doing this, I have another one ready for the next baby that is coming along.  I also think it would be nice to make a colorful throw for the couch to help keep toes warm and kitties content. 

Thursday, February 17, 2011

County Fair, County Fair, A Down Home Feelin' in the Air!

Yep, it's time for Blue Ribbon Carrot Cake!

So, it got up to 64 degrees today in Nebraska and people were out in their shorts and tank tops, therefore I felt I needed to whip up some blue ribbon carrot cake to get into the warm weather spirit.  And what says warm weather better than a county fair. Yee haw.

Well, it's no joke that I won the blue ribbon at the Boone County Fair two years ago with this delicious Carrot Cake recipe.  And I won myself the grand prize of twenty five dollars.  That's right twenty five dollars.  I couldn't believe the prize money for carrot cake, most people win five bucks or a free haircut.  My prize was high class and because of that I made a seriously delectable cake. (the key ingredient ain't the carrots, honey, it's the cream cheese frosting, whoopie!)  Ummm, let's get to it then so you can whip yourself up one before the weather turns cold again.


To begin, you will need about 3 cups of  shredded carrots.  I recommend using a food processor to do this, but if yours is broken like mine, start working those wrist muscles and grate it out.

You've prepared your carrots, then you set them aside for later.  Now, you must beat together the sugar, oil and eggs.  That doesn't look to appetizing here, but it gets better...

Add the dry ingredients, including flour, soda, salt and cinnamon (love it!).

Mix it all together

Try to take a classy picture with your camera...which actually turns out kind of weird.  

Beat in the shredded carrots that you worked so hard to grate.

Place it in a greased pan.

And bake it right up to send to the county fair. Yee haw!
Delectable indeed.  The cream cheese frosting gets the judges every time!

And there you have it, a blue ribbon winner. Try it out and you'll love it.  And you'll be eating healthy with all those carrots in there, well...sort of.

Check out the recipe below.  This is an old Betty Crocker Classic.

Cake
1 1/2cups granulated sugar
1cup vegetable oil
3eggs
2cups all-purpose flour
2teaspoons ground cinnamon
1teaspoon baking soda
1teaspoon vanilla
1/2teaspoon salt
3cups shredded carrots (5 medium)
1cup coarsely chopped walnuts (optional)
1package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
1/4cup butter or margarine, softened
2to 3 teaspoons milk
1teaspoon vanilla
4cups powdered sugar
Print these coupons...
About Concordance™

  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease bottom and sides of one 13x9-inch pan or two 8-inch or 9-inch round pans with shortening; lightly flour. In large bowl, beat granulated sugar, oil and eggs with electric mixer on low speed about 30 seconds or until blended. Add flour, cinnamon, baking soda, 1 teaspoon vanilla and the salt; beat on low speed 1 minute. Stir in carrots and nuts. Pour into pan(s).
  2. Bake 13x9-inch pan 40 to 45 minutes, round pans 30 to 35 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool rectangle in pan on cooling rack. Cool rounds 10 minutes; remove from pans to cooling rack. Cool completely, about 1 hour.
  3. In medium bowl, beat cream cheese, butter, milk and vanilla with electric mixer on low speed until smooth. Gradually beat in powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, on low speed until smooth and spreadable. Frost 13x9-inch cake or fill and frost round layers with frosting. Store in refrigerator.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Steaks Sizzle on Valentine's Day

 So yesterday was Valentine's Day, the most romantic day of the year . . . sure.  If you know me, you know that I dislike the following actions very much a) sitting on the same side of the booth as your companion  b) holding hands across the table  c) kissing across the table.   Needless to say going out to eat on this so called romantic day was not an option for me. Instead, I decided to make steaks.  The sexist of all dinners!  I have a sure fire way to make steaks indoors so they turn out juicy, succulent, and delicious every time.  I don't even bother to try and grill steaks any more, because this is the only way to do it.  I'm not kidding, just follow these simple directions. . .



Ingredients:
-Steaks - (in this case I used filets because, hello, I mean buisness and it was Valentine's Day.  I've done this with sirloins and rib eyes too.  (Sirloins good, rib eyes not as good but still not bad.))
-Kosher Salt
-Pepper
That is it, seriously.

Step one - Get it hot!: Get a cast iron skillet or other oven proof skillet nice and hot with about 1 tablespoon of oil.  Turn your oven on to 400 degrees. 

Step two - Season the steaks:  Pat your steaks dry to avoid having them stick to the pan.  Liberally salt and pepper your steaks.  I don't have cracked peppercorns, but I imagine that would be good.

seasoned steaks

Step three - Sear 'em:  In your steamy hot skillet sear your steaks for about 2 minutes per side.  This will lock in the delicious steak juices.

lock in those juices!

Step three - Bake 'em:  Put your skillet (steaks included) in your pre-heated oven.  Let those babies cook until they are to your desired doneness.  We like a medium-rare steak so it didn't take long.  I honestly meant to remember the exact number of minutes it took, but I forgot.  I will let you know next time.  Or if you try it, leave a comment. :)

Step four - Eat 'em:  While eating these steaks, coversation doesn't go much farther than how delicious these are.  No joke.

dinner is served

We had some broccoli and a baked potato with our steaks.  They all complimented each other perfectly, and this fancy Valentine's Day meal this took all of 30 minutes to make.  Well, I guess the baked potatoes took an hour to bake, but it didn't require any effort, so I'm not counting it. 

Try it, it will work, you will love them, I promise.

Penny patiently waits for her steak . . . it didn't come.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Cloth Diapers...Airing Out Your Dirty Laundry

Well, the time has finally come for the next in the series of cloth diaper laundering.  You knew you'd have to air out your dirty laundry sometime...so, get your washer rollin' and check out the video below.  Also, if you missed the first in the series, check it out (Cloth Diapers...the essentials).


video


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Put Some Crunch in your Life--Chocolate Chip Biscotti

Hey all, I thought you all might be craving something a little out of the ordinary for me.  I guess you could call this a dignified dessert.  It is, after all, one of those desserts that has to be enjoyed with a warm beverage--coffee, tea, or in my case, hot chocolate.

Yes, biscotti.  This crunchy, munchy, sweet treat can be found in coffee shops and Italian bistros the world over.  I actually only had biscotti for the first time last year.  I am really not into crunchy desserts--they're not my thing.  Give me gooey, soft, and melt in your mouth!!

But, one day when Jaime and I were eating at a great little place in Lincoln called Caffe Italia.  We got one of their wonderful panini sandwiches, and then he ordered a cappuccino.  I also wanted an after lunch snack to enjoy so I got a hot chocolate and a chocolate chip biscotti.

Let me just tell you, my hatred of crunchy desserts disappeared.  After dipping the biscotti in the hot chocolate it was soft and the chocolate melted in my mouth.  The next day, I decided to give biscotti a whirl.

I found this recipe on a nice blog called Half Baked.  The recipe is really simple.  You can check it out using the link.

Here are some photos of the process:

Mixing the dry ingredients--don't mind the cinnamon, you don't even really taste it.

Cut up the butter into half inch pats.  Pat of butter--was that a school lunch line term?  I don't remember.

Cut the butter into the dry ingredients...

Until it is thoroughly combined.

Add liquids and bring it all together with a fork--

and your hands!

The recipe said to divide the dough into four "logs", but if you want the traditionally sized biscotti, I would divide it into two instead.  These turned out like mini-biscotti.  p.s.  Notice the two pans--which one do you think worked better?

After you bake the biscotti logs for the first time, you slice them into, well, slices.

Then you re-bake those slices until they are brown and crunchy.  Notice that I laid mine the wrong way--they should be laying cut side up.

Finished product.  Check out that texture.  Delish!

I was very happy with the finished product of this biscotti.  It was very tasty.  I took it home for the holidays and my dad really liked it.  I think it might be a holiday staple from here on out!