Saturday, March 29, 2014

mini greenhouses

I'm trying something new this year to start my seeds. Since we've been eating a lot of spinach in 'clamshell' packages so I've been holding on to them to try using them as mini greenhouses to start seeds this year. I'm trying two different ways to hold me seeds, some of the clamshells will have plastic seed trays and for others I'm using toilet paper rolls that I've cut in half.

Since these clamshells have no holes in them and as the seeds begin to grow I want to be able to water from the bottom instead of the top I have cut holes in the bottom of the packages I'm putting the toilet paper rolls in and those packages are sitting in a plastic tray.

Hopefully in the next few weeks there will be some growth! 
This seems like a great option for reusing some household objects. It was quick and easy to set up and just took a little planning to hold on to the plastic packages. 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Mini Birthday Cakes

I feel very strongly that you can't have a birthday without having cake. It's not the healthiest conviction but it is tasty… when friends have birthdays I make sure to at least bring them a cupcake so there is some kind of cake. We were out of town and arrived home the evening of my birthday. There was no cake. Since I was working from home today (the day after my birthday) I decided to correct this no cake problem so I could accept that it was my birthday. I had two little barriers 1) did not feel like going to the store to get ingredients 2) it is only my husband and myself so I do not need a big elaborate cake because then we will eat it…

So I decided to do a flour less chocolate cake with the ingredients I had in the house

The cake:
2 oz bittersweet chocolate
2.7 oz Taza chocolate disks, 1 package,  I actually used a special addition flavor made with Fire Puncher vodka
1/2 cup 63% cacao chocolate chips
1 stick butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
3 eggs

In a double boiler I melted the chocolate and butter, let it cool then mixed it with the sugar and eggs
the batter went in a greased cake pan to bake at 375 for 30 minutes

Since I wanted birthday cake, that to me means frosting so I decided to use a round cookie cutter to cut up the cake and make mini cakes

I made 3 flavors of frosting, since I'd used all the butter I had in the cake my main ingredients were heavy cream and powdered sugar
Rose Frosting: heavy cream, powdered sugar, rose water and red food coloring
Caramel: some carmel I had made for cinnamon buns mixed with heavy cream and powdered sugar
Vodka: when Taza did their special Fire Puncher chocolate, Grand Ten also did a special Fire Puncher vodka with chocolate which I happened to have some I mixed some of that with heavy cream and powdered sugar

Then I made three mini cakes, one with each frosting and topped with sprinkles to add a festive touch.
I froze the extra cake rounds to enjoy later.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Roasted Artichokes

Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area artichokes have a special place in my heart. As much as I love them I haven't ever gotten adventurous with cooking them. I've only ever steamed them and then usually dip the leaves in melted butter. So I tried a new cooking method today which admittedly wasn't a big change but a start...

I prepared the artichoke by cutting off the top and the stem, opening the leaves a bit and giving it a good rinse. I peeled four cloves of garlic and stuck them in between the leaves toward the middle of the artichoke. I poured a little olive oil on some aluminium foil then placed the artichoke in the center, drizzled some oil over the artichoke, squeezed half a lemon on it and topped off with some salt, then I closed the foil up around it so the artichoke was covered, placed it on a small baking dish and baked at 425 for about an hour and fifteen minutes.once it was cooked it didn't need anything else because it had the flavor for the oil, lemon, garlic and salt. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

vegetarian shepherd's pie

Since we had boiled dinner over the weekend but wanted an Irish inspired dish for St. Patrick's Day I decided to try a vegetarian shepherd's pie. 

mashed potatoes
bay leaf
olive oil
Worchestershire sauce
cayenne pepper - just a pinch 

If you don't already have mashed potatoes start by making them. 
Cook lentils with a bay leaf until just tender and drain any extra water off and remove bay leaf
Sautee in olive oil the onion and garlic, then add mushrooms and kale, chopped small and cook down
Turn off heat add carrots, peas, corn, lentils and seasoning and mix together

Put vegetable mix in the bottom of a baking dish and layer mashed potatoes on top then bake at 350 for about 30 minutes until warm and potatoes just start to brown. 

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Rainbow Cake Balls a.k.a. Unicorn Poop

St. Patrick's Day in Boston is a big event. It also coincides with a local holiday called Evacuation Day. 

Since we were headed to our friends house who live near near the parade route and now have a baby I decided instead of the usual beer and booze items we would go more family friendly. 

Everyone needs to wear green - even desert and since leprechauns and rainbows pop up for St Patrick's I used that as my inspiration. Although, after making this I think it could also be called unicorn poop.

Here's what you need:
box of white cake mix and all the ingredients listed on box
container of white frosting
food coloring 
box of brownie mix and all the ingredients listed on box
candy melts - for this I used green and white  and I bought them at Michaels instead of melting white chocolate chips but that would also work
sprinkles (optional)

Follow the directions on the box of cake to make the batter, then separate the batter into 6 containers and use food coloring to color each bowl of cake batter a different color
Cook colored cake batter as cupcakes 
bake the brownies according to the directions on the package
once cooked and cooled place each cake color in a separate bowl again and divide the can of frosting between each color then mix in
take small portions of each color and layer together then roll slightly to form a ball
roll out cooked and slightly cooled brownies 
wrap brownie layer around the colored cake ball 
* I ended up with about twice as much colored cake as I had brownies so I did some just cake balls and some brownie wrapped

in a double boiler melt the candy melts and dip the cake balls in to coat them

Since I had some rainbow cake balls with brownie and some without I decided to differentiate by coating the brownie ones in dark green and adding some white candy melts to that to coat the plain rainbows in a lighter green and added some sprinkles for a little extra festive touch

The real trick will be getting people to bite these in half and see the rainbow inside instead of popping the whole things all at once. 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

kale smoothie

We've been drinking a lot of spinach smoothies for breakfast over the winter and want to start diversifying our green smoothie routine a bit.

This morning I blended:
half an avocado
maple syrup 

It was good. I would make it again and am looking forward to more green smoothie experimenting.