CSA Box – October 23, 2014

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I usually post this on Thursday right after I unpack everything but just didn’t seem to have time. At least I took some quick photos though.

Another totally fall box.

farmshare csa box acme farms & kitchen

Chard, kale, celery, broccoli, carrots, red bell peppers, fresh spaghetti, ground beef, red potatoes and yukon gold potatoes, onions, garlic, dried split peas, fresh flour tortillas, rosemary rolls, Jack cheese

Recipes included were:

Spaghetti with Broccoli Pesto
Shepherd’s Pie
Quesadillas with Peppers & Chard
Split Pea Soup and Rosemary Rolls

I was actually very good this last week and tried very hard to work a whole week’s menu around our box from last week. I usually try to figure things out one day at a time and that can be expensive. I don’t always like using the recipes provided, but they do give me inspiration.

We had a nice hearty beef stew, perfect with the rainy weather we’ve been having. I also found a recipe that would use my ground pork, pappardelle pasta and apples. The pork has been in the freezer for a while now, not used from one of the previous boxes. The pork and noodles turned out pretty good. I’ll share that recipe later in the week.

I finally used my pumpkin from a couple of weeks ago and made a pumpkin puree that I used in some yummy and moist pumpkin bread. Oh and can’t forget the butternut squash and apple soup. It was ok, I’m going to need to work on it a bit before I share that recipe. I don’t think I used enough squash and it needed a little something else to punch up the flavor a bit.

Carrot Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

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carrot cupcake

Instead of making a carrot cake with all the carrots from my CSA box I decided to make cupcakes. I found this recipe on the Taste of Home website. There were no raisins, no pineapple, no coconut…well at least not in the cupcake itself. The frosting had all of that stuff in it.

Imaging my consternation when I discovered I only had 1/2 cup of oil left and I needed 1 cup. I decided to use 1/2 cup oil and 1/2 cup butter, keeping my fingers crossed the whole time that it would work. I also substituted 1 cup brown sugar and 1 cup granulated sugar for the 2 cups of granulated sugar it called for.

You would not believe how long these cupcakes stayed moist. I kept them in an airtight container for a week and they still were as moist as the day I made them. They actually tasted better the second and third days, just like banana bread and zucchini bread. Next time I’m going to try an extra cup of carrots, there didn’t seem to be enough carrot flavor. A lot of nice warm, Fall spices though. They were a huge hit with everyone who tried them.

Oh, and a final note. Please note that the cupcake wrapper color is still nice and bright and there isn’t a ton of greasy fat coating it. I used these wonderful grease proof cupcake liners. Really, you need to try them. It makes a huge difference in how long your cupcakes stay moist.

carrot cupcake 2

Carrot Cupcakes

adapted from Taste of Home recipe

4 eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 Tbls orange zest
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups grated carrots

Cream Cheese Frosting
1 (8 oz) pkg cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
4 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon

In separate bowl combine the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, allspice and salt. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl beat butter, oil and sugars. Add eggs one at a time, beating until yellow yolk has been integrated. Add orange zest. Add half of flour mixture and mix until just combined, add 1/4 cup orange juice and mix until just combined, add remaining flour mixture, mixing just until combined. Scrape sides of bowl as necessary. Stir in carrots.

Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups two-thirds full. Bake at
325° for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the
center comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pans
to wire racks. Cupcakes will appear a bit darker because of the brown sugar. They will also not have a dome shape but flat top. Do not overbake.

For the frosting: In bowls of stand mixer beat butter and cream cheese on medium speed until well combined. Gradually add in confectioners’ sugar one cup at a time, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary. Add vanilla and cinnamon and mix until combined.

Store in airtight container. Will remain very moist for at least 5 days.

Two Year Anniversary!

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I can’t believe I’ve been blogging for two years already. Time just seems to have flown by. I know I’m pretty late on to the blogging scene. I remember thinking years ago, when blogging first started getting popular, why would anyone want to write about their daily life and who would really be interested? I did belong to several different “groups” at that time and didn’t think blogging would stick around too long.

Well wasn’t I mistaken! Now people are making money writing their blogs and groups aren’t as popular. At least I don’t really belong to any other than Ravelry and that isn’t really a group forum, it’s just one of the perks. I had always loved sharing my recipes and crafts in my groups but I hated the drama that seemed to always take place, so I decided to jump on the blogging bandwagon. This way I can write what I want, when I want and as often as I want. I don’t have to worry about drama because it’s just me sharing my passions with people.

There have been some days and weeks that I just haven’t felt like there is much to say. Or I haven’t really done anything other than veg on the couch all weekend.

Other times there just seems to be too much to write about.

I thought I would take a look back at some of my favorite posts, some of those that seem to be very popular, and maybe a few that leave me scratching my head and wondering “now why did I think I needed to write about this?”

It seems some of my most popular posts are about food. Whether it’s a recipe I shared or a cake I’ve decorated.

My most viewed cake is the Team Umizoomi Cake.

team umizoomi cake

It’s the one cake that I actually took pictures as I went and sort of explained how I created it. I don’t consider it a real tutorial and I’m sure others have done a much better job than I did. But I always appreciate a few good pictures and tips or tricks when I’m looking for a specific design. Hope everyone who has taken a look at the post found it useful.

Another popular cake is my recent Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle cake. I guess with the new turtle movie out there is a whole new crop of fans. I haven’t watched the movie yet because the turtles really creep me out. I suppose if mutant turtles age they would probably look like them, but frankly I love the teenage turtles.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle sheet cake

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle sheet cake

My favorite cake is probably this one. Now I’m only talking about cakes that I’ve made since I started blogging two years ago. This one doesn’t look like much and it’s pretty small, but it’s so pretty and I had to learn some new techniques to get the ruffles.

Wedding Cake - fondant ruffles and fondant flower.

Wedding Cake – fondant ruffles and fondant flower.

I think my Peanut Butter Cookies recipe is one of the most visited recipe posts. It really is a good peanut butter cookie.

peanut butter cookies

One of my family’s favorite recipes is this version of Dragon Noodles that I had pulled from Pinterest. It’s definitely a go to meal when I don’t know what else to make.

dragon noodles with chicken

I’ve finished up a few different crochet projects as well in the last two years. I think one of my favorites right now is the Picture Perfect Afghan. I’ve made four of them so far. Three baby and one lapghan that still needs ends to be weaved in. It is a simple pattern that can easily be adjusted to whatever color scheme you’d like. I made a Gryffindor themed one and one in Seahawks colors. It’s my go-to baby blanket pattern right now. Thank you Darleen Hopkins for such a great pattern.

gryffindor picture perfect baby blanket3

seahawks inspired picture perfect baby blanket2

Some of my favorite times, of course, is with family. Whether it’s holiday baking like last December or camping with my my kids and my grandson this summer.

My niece carefully sprinkling her cookie.

My niece carefully sprinkling her cookie.

cade 3

I’ve had a great two years sharing my life with everyone and am looking forward to many more. Thank you to everyone who has dropped in and left me little notes. I appreciate each and every visitor.

Lentil and Sausage Soup with Kale

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lentil sausage soup

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m honestly not a huge Rachel Ray fan. I haven’t really found any of her recipes to be one of those that I just had to go make right away. Until now. Her show “Rachel Ray’s Week in a Day” was on and she was making Lentil Soup with Sausage and Kale. I knew I had to try it. I had an over abundance of dried lentil beans from my CSA box that I really needed to use. I had some kale and carrots from the box that also needed to be used quickly because they were on their last legs.

It was the perfect soup to start off Fall. It was flavorful, filling and just plain good. My whole family fell in love with it so in the Family Favorites book it goes. I have never tried using lentils before so I was kind of worried about it, but I have to say that I love them. There is no soaking overnight and cooking for hours to get the beans broken down. It takes an hour, tops, to make the soup. Of course I like to let it simmer a bit longer to develop the flavors more, but it’s ready an hour after you start it if you’re in a hurry.

I made it the day before and let it cool completely before storing in the refrigerator. Reheated on the stove top the next day with about an extra cup of chicken stock added (it was pretty thick) and dinner was served. It was even better the second day.

lentil sausage soup 2

Lentil Soup with Kale and Sausage

Adapted from a recipe courtesy of Rachael Ray

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound hot or sweet Italian bulk sausage
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 bay leaves
1 tsp dried rosemary
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 medium carrots, finely chopped
1 large onion, chopped
2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into small chunks
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 bunch black kale, stemmed and chopped (about 1 1/2 to 2 cups chopped kale)
1 cup dry red wine
4 cups chicken stock
2 cups water
1 1/2 cups brown lentils
Shaved Parmesan cheese, for serving

Heat the olive in a soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and cook, crumbling with a wooden spoon, until browned. Don’t crumble it too fine, leave it a little chunky so you have nice meaty bites.

Add the garlic, bay leaves, rosemary, carrots, onions and potatoes and season with salt and pepper. Cook until the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for another minute. Stir in the kale and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the wine to deglaze the pot, stirring and scraping up any browned bits from the bottom until liquid has almost totally evaporated. Stir in the chicken stock and water and bring to boil (for thicker soup, use 2 cups less liquid).

Stir in the lentils and cook at on medium-low until the lentils are tender, about 30 to 35 minutes. Remove the bay leaves.

Ladle the soup into bowls and top with grated Parmesan cheese.

WIP Wednesday – Started something new yet again

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Yep, I started a new project. But in my defense it is something that my daughter has been asking me to make for several years now. She wants a large filet crochet wall hanging similar to one I made many, many years ago. Mine is red with Santa and a reindeer. She wants hers to match a tablecloth and napkin set my mom embroidered for her that has, you guessed it, snowmen on it.

I took the copy of the snowman from the embroidery pattern and attempted to graph it. I decided I had better test the snowman pattern first before attempting the much larger project. The chart looks pretty good, but we’ll see how it translates in yarn.

Here’s what I have so far.

filet snowman

I also finished crocheting her Seahawks afghan so now all I have left is the weaving in of ends. Have I mentioned yet how much I hate weaving in ends?

I ended up frogging this top down shawl project

DSC_0598It just wasn’t hanging right and wasn’t quite what I wanted. I need something that will lay across my shoulders and down my arms without being a mile long. I think I’ll have to try a more crescent shaped shawl, triangle shawls just aren’t working right.

I did finish a project! Yay me! It was just the weaving in ends on an old WIP/UFO but I finished something in my basket finally. That is for FO Friday.

 

WIP Wednesday – can you say startitis?

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I may have mentioned before that I have a terrible condition called “startitis”. It seems I am always starting a project and never finishing it. It was embarrassing enough to showcase all of my WIPs and UFOs earlier and now here I have a few more to add.

I’ve been working on and off between these projects for a couple of weeks. I’ve also been adding to my toy crochet food collection but haven’t been taking any pictures. They all need ends weaved in, finishing touches, etc.

This is another Darleen Hopkins Picture Perfect Afghan. I made a few more alterations of course. Because this is going to be a larger afghan I did two rounds each of the contrasting colors. The space between the contrasting colors I increased to 20 rounds.

Seahawks colors lapghan

This is the first one I did as a test. When we were asked to test the pattern she only wanted a bit of it done to double check the pattern repeats. But I’ve been slowly weaving in ends here and there and I’m bound and determined to check one thing off of my WIP list. My goal is to finish it by this Friday so I can say I finished something finally. You can see how different it looks with the changes I made on the Seahawks colored one.

picture perfect afghanI also started two shawls. Why? Because I felt like it. It’s not because I wear them all the time and needed more. I only have one and my dog has taken possession of that one. I mainly use it during the winter while crocheting. It gets a bit chilly and you just can’t crochet and wrap up in a big comfy afghan now can you?

The top one is called Top Down Shawl from Red Heart. I had some of this pretty blue and white Serenity Garden yarn that I had left from a frogged project and thought it would look pretty. It should work nicely because the shawl won’t be big and bulky.

top down shawl

This one has been in my Ravelry queue forever and is called the Elise Shawl. I actually wanted to make a lace weight shawl that I could use as a scarf but I saw someone had used the Serenity Garden for their shawl and liked the look of it. I had frogged another one of my projects that I wasn’t happy with and thought I would use it for this shawl.

elise shawlLast but not least the progress on my Minion blanket. I’ve been pretty much hands off for a long time, it’s been too hot to have this heavy thing lying across my lap. But now that it’s cooling down a smidge I’m starting up on it again. One question I have is how in the world do people keep the ends only on one side of the afghan? I have numerous ends to weave in on both sides. Unless they are cutting the yarn each row?

minion blanket

 

 

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