Saturday, February 26, 2011

Cucake results...

The photo that didn't make it

Here's the cupcakes that we had ordered. Sarah got the Lemon vanilla (my favorite) and the peanutbetter chocolate (very rich). Joy ordered the birthday cake (I loved it for the sprinkles), and I ordered the cupcake with the chocolate icing, it was supposed to be chocolate with chocolate but there was a mix up :( .

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

organics and cupcakes

So today I ventured out with one goal in mind but ended up with two great pit stops.
I ended up on the other side of town where Whole Foods is. So I knew that they had some things at a great price BUT I didn't know they had so many great deals! I can't afford to buy everything organic I do what I can.  So I went into the store for the first time REALLY looking at what they had and what I needed. *A hint to being able to shop online and in stores and KNOW that you're getting a good deal is knowing what the average price for things are. Find the lowest price that you consistently find something at that and maybe keep a list, like in the front of your grocery list notebook.  Also, following sales and knowing that a certain goes on sale frequently enough and that you can buy up on it and wait it out when you have to.  With that in mind you can check out most other places and know when you are truly getting a good deal.

At Whole Foods they have a great bulk bin section. My favorites that I like to grab for the same, lower or reasonably higher price is: organic black beans, organic oats, organic raw cane sugar...BUT be careful. Lurking in the bulk bins section are frivolous and high priced items that you can definitely find cheaper or you just don't need...and are not healthy for you (just because it says organic doesn't mean it's good for you)!

The dairy surprised me. For CHEAPER and the same price I was able to find butter, milk, sour cream, and yogurt that did not have hormones added.  I was surprised! Now, if you wanted organic it was substantially higher priced. steps. We are at least getting less hormones =).

I didn't really need anything in this area but I did want to see the prices. Some of the products where way higher than at a regular grocery store but there were a few finds that were great. Fresh lettuce was the best deal I found. Organic and cheaper and better looking than other super stores I shop at.

There is so much to be said of Whole Foods but my find of the day which I'm still baffled about was being able to find Non GMO corn chips!!!- near impossible when it comes to corn.

Well, then we were off to home BUT I couldn't wait to stop by a new cupcakery, Smallcakes, that opened up in the area.  The baker was on Cupcake Wars on Foodnetwork twice and my daughter is a big fan of that show, as well as cupcakes. I've always wanted to try a professional pastry. Something that wasn't packaged and that was made as a specialty...I'm especially interested in the icing.  So after a few technical difficulties (me and technology do NOT get along) , we made it there.

It was smaller than expected and packed with people. The line was very long but moved surprisingly fast. 

I was about to check out when I saw someone in the back. Sure enough it was the cupcake man himself!  So I asked if I could take a picture of him and he came out and took a picture with us! I was so excited. I told my husband I was star struck but he reminded me that this guy wasn't a star. =) Close enough for me! 

We were unbelievably patient enough to get the cupcakes home and split them up so that we could all try them out. They were yummy.

Between my sister and I and the kids...we really only bought four cupcakes...they just had one size of box.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

feed your skin

This weekend I had the extreme pleasure of hosting a lotion making party. Is it because I'm a pro at this?Absolutely not! But we all learned a lot! That is in between all the chatting and chewing. Yes, you can buy lotion for super cheap, however lotion that works well and is GOOD for you and your skin can be very pricey. It's important to watch what you put on your skin, the largest organ of your body.  Your skin absorbs things sometimes faster than what you eat.  So, all of these things we put into these lotions are things that you could eat! 
Here are my top two favorite recipes that I know I will try again:

Chatherine's Coconut Oil Lotion
*Her daughter has blogged about this and she has a really neat blog that I love.
1/2-1 C unrefined organic coconut oil
Add Aloe Vera Gel
and blend until desired
(I also added some essential oil. I just put a dab of lavender- perfect for the children after baths!)

My friend Claire was probably the only one who diligently worked on a lotion, and her work paid off! I got to reap the benefits too!

Her recipe included melting, cooling and mixing...I'm hoping to get the recipe from her!
(She did! Here it is!)

We ALL LOVED the coffee scrub. We made a batch in about a minute and a half and had to try it out right away. Made me silky smooth for the rest of the night!
(my sink is NOT that dirty- it was the coffee!!)

Coffee Body Scrub
2 cups ground coffee (I hear you can also prepare this with used coffee grounds -- another great way to recycle!)

1/2 cup salt or sugar

2-3 tablespoons oil, to desired consistency
(I also added some lavender to this as well. I think I'll try some tea tree too next time)
As Meg blogged about this that you could probably use old coffee grounds then that would make this recipe dirt cheap!

A big saver for the day was a friend who printed out these recipes for us on card stock. What a great idea! Put some of these together for yourself and a friend and print out some of these cards and have a very personal and thoughtful gift...for a fraction of the price.

I must add that food was hit.  Erin brought some yummy homemade pita chips and hummus and I look forward to seeing a recipe on her blog...hint hint!
I made two of my favorite chip dips, spinach artichoke dip (I don't follow the recipe exactly- do I ever?) and spicy red pepper dip.  Both of them are addictive but I can never get enough of the red pepper dip. My father in law bought a season mix in Texas. It seemed so simple to me I threw something together and I liked the results! I haven't really gotten the measurements down yet but I have the gist. To me it's wonderful because of the cool creaminess from sour cream, the slight sweet from the Mayo and the wonderful flavor and heat from cumin and red peppers.

Rep Pepper Dip
1/2 C sour cream
1/2 C olive oil mayo
1 t red pepper flakes
1/4-1/2 t ground red pepper
1 t cumin
1/2 t salt
dash of black pepper
Mix and refrigerate 1 hour- overnight
Red Pepper Dip

Artichoke Dip

We all had a blast (at least that's what they tell me :)

And the end result:

Coffee scrub, coconut oil lotion, wonderful face lotion.

I hope to do more of this. I hope to find some pumps to make mason jar lotion/soap pumps.
I love being productive, I love getting together with friends, and I love eating...this party was just that.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

the good, the bad, the delicious

The good.


We'll start with dessert (why not!). And actually, I've been learning that when preparing for dinner company, it's best to make the dessert first. It took me a long time to learn that. It helps guarantee that it gets done and that your company isn't sitting around waiting for you to clean up AND finish up/making the dessert.  Not to mention it IS the star of the night.
So I recently spent an afternoon with a friend and she showed me how to make her chocolate cake.  It was wonderful! Her and her husband are natural health consultants (find their site here) and she does some great recipe creations for their healthy life styles and has recently started a fantastic new blog!  
So first the photos:

Make sure you have all your ingredients.
Mix dry ingredients together.
Mix wet together.
Then combine.

Pour, and bake!

Allow the cake to cool.

Make your yummy icing.

Now, if you become impatient and put the cake in the freezer and the icing in the fridge to cool then this may happen (above).  Makes spreading the icing a bit difficult but nothing that a little of what was missing the first time can't fix (patience). Waiting is so hard when waiting for this cake!

A healthy icing to cake ratio is necessary.
The icing was DELICIOUS! However, the cake itself was so great that I could have had it with a lightly sweetened whipped cream and that says a lot. I think most cakes are dry especially the healthier you get...but this isn't just any cake.

I present to you, Meg's cake.

As well as the final result.

The icing was DELICIOUS! However, the cake itself was so great that I could have had it with a lightly sweetened whipped cream and that says a lot.  I usually eat cakes for the icing, I think most cakes are dry especially the healthier you get...but this isn't just any cake.  Here's the final result. More coffee and ice cream left with no cake to be seen. This is never heard of in my dessert-eating history.  This is a must try and a special treat for gluten free, low carb, sugar free eaters! (And I'm not really one of those and I loved it!)

I am excited to share her low carb, sugar free, gluten free, flax seed and almond flour cake and icing recipe with you!

The bad.
For those wheat eating glutens only:
Over the passed few months I've been really wanting some ravioli, and really wanting to try to make I finally did!  Making your own homemade ravioli is not impossible or overly complicated. Just keep it simple! I do NOT have a pasta maker, nor do I have a ravioli cutter/press/mold, nor am I Italian :). But it's still possible and I must say...worth it. Not to mention that making your own is so much more cost effective verses going out or buying them frozen.
I started with meat filled raviolis. The first time they were good but it was hard. At least 4 hours later and they were...okay. However, a few batches down the road and I'm getting into a groove.  I don't usually like cheese filled pasta but that's what I have really come to like. Easy to work with and CHEAP!
Here's the recipe that I found to be closest to what I like, on

I never do a full batch. You can read my review in the review section.  
I must add that the step of "waiting 20min" to let the dough rest before you begin to roll is important!
French bread made, pasta sauce warming on the back of the stove (just getting overflow heat) and water coming to a boil.

 My french bread recipe is for two loaves. So I made some hoagies for meatball sandwiches later on that week.
 Dough has been made, rested, filling made, egg wash, and a teaspoon measuring spoon and a round cookie cutter. And a basting brush.
I lightly (not cutting the dough) press the cookie cutter around the dough to help with spacing. Then I drop a scoop of filling in the middle of each circle.  Brush around each filling mound with egg wash.

Roll out the other half of dough and lay gently across the top.  Using your fingers, gently press around each mound of filing trying to seal it and get most air out.

Now it's time to cute the ravioli and then I like to press the edges with a fork to make sure they are nicely sealed.

Served with a yummy organic spinach salad, fresh, homemade french bread...and voila. Yum!
But you'd better have the Flaxseed cake after a meal like this!

The good, the bad, but both DELICIOUS!
(I HAVE to add that while typing out this entry I was flipping channels for my background noise and sure enoguh Clint Eastwood's "The Good, the Bad, the Ugly" was on!

What's your favorite filling for ravioli?
Let me know if you try any of these recipes and tell me how they went!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

how could you not love this month?

Ah yes. The month of love... for some. We don't take this month real serious around here, but I don't let too many occasions that I can use to bake, make and spoil! So we got busy!
First I hit the sewing machine and made some silly and fun things for Valentine fun for my etsy shop.
That was fun but time was getting away from me and the kids and I needed to start on the delicious part of valentines day!
Christmas and Valentine's Day are my favorite sugar cookie holidays, though there's never a bad time to make cookies!

Joy helped roll out and cut. Then when all was done we started her favorite part of decorating! I kept it simple this time:

Yes, 20 month and 4 year old sprinkling cookies can get a little out of hand, but nothing a warm wet rag and a broom can't handle.

Then I was ready to do what I know my special Valentine would love the best. Peanut Butter Bon-Bons.
Five years ago or so I decided to make them into hearts instead of balls. I submitted a photo to allrecipes, so yes, the heart ones there are mine! But the one posted here is a new photo :)
I follow the recipe but then quickly mash the mixture flat (about 1 inch thick). I used a mat this time but last time I greased a glass pan.  Then I used the smallest heart shaped cookie cutter to cut them out gently then smoothed the creases with my fingers. The left over I ball up in about 1in balls. Then freeze and I use toothpicks to dip into chocolate.  The recipe calls for a very small amount of chocolate...I use at least a whole bag of chips (12oz).

Isaac trying to grab another "sample."

Then I was off to package up these treats. This was just as much fun thanks to a favorite blog of mine that I found thanks to my mom. She highlights 10 other blogs every Tuesday with a theme. This passed Tuesday was candybar wrappers and I loved the Udaman wrapper and used it to wrap around my bon bons (hubby doesn't eat chocolate bars but I oh so wanted to us the wrapper!). I also used some of her other featured "wrappers." I'm not the most creative or proffesional when it comes to things but I try! I used an old salad container for my cookies and then covered the clamshell lid with my own label.  I think it worked just fine! What cheap packaging!!

For the bon bons I used treat bags that I got a year ago for Christmas. They work great, are cheap, and look pretty! Then covered them in the chocolate wrapper I printed.

Valentine's Day is just a great day to go just a little farther (and a good excuse to cheat on those new year's resolutions) to spoil those who you love.
I was especially motivated because I had been reading some devotionals by Girlfriends in God, a great daily devotional online (for any guys that may have suffered this far ready my blog- Crosswalk has other great devos you would enjoy).  They've been talking about the importance of respecting and loving our Husbands. I  really enjoy what they put out and suggest them!

Happy Valentine's Day!

Friday, February 4, 2011

blueberries, baking soda and blizzards

This winter has been full of fun in the fluff. Fluffy snow that is! We've been having our fun inside and outdoors.

I decided to combat the chilly blues with scrumptious blueberry scones. Blueberry scones with a zesty lemon glaze- a personal favorite of mine. I chose to go with Tyler Florence's recipe. I didn't follow the glaze recipe exactly. I used a fraction of the lemon juice (a couple tablespoons) and added in some milk.Sadly enough I didn't have any zest, which is my favorite part, well, besides the blueberries.
These were delicious but did need the extra lemon and zest. I baked for the minimum amount of time and the were soft and fluffy. Some may like their scones a lot more dense and dry, but these were good. Joined with my organic coffee and I would choose mine over an expensive one through a drive through any day!

A short while back we had some friends over for the weekend. When we have a large group I have a few go-to recipes that will feed a crowd (I'm slowly learning how to cook for larger groups). Chili is a favorite of our family and is so easy when feeding a big group. I love to use my crock pots for making chili. I start out the morning of or the night before cooking my beans. I like to mix half black and half red kidney beans. My favorite way to cook them is in ONLY water (no salt until the VERY end) and on low, for 6-8 hours. I then season them up in the last 30 min-hour (onion, red peppers, garlic and salt). Then I drain and add all my chili favorites. My biggest suggestion for chili is cilantro. It is so flavorful, fresh and good for you! Can't get enough myself. However, this can lead to a dirty/stained crock pot! I had given up on my beautiful crock pot bowls after all my bean and chili cooking. But my friend was helping me clean up and she didn't think all hope was lost. She sprinkled the bowl with some baking soda then took a warm wet rag and it wiped right off!!!
This pan had been slightly stained for ...years...
Who knew that baking soda was the silent stain assassin. I sure didn't! And how cheap it is! She had found that it was wonderful after horribly scorching a pan. She just warmed water and baking soda in her pan and a couple times through and it looks like new.I know that from now on I will stay stocked up on baking soda!
*Not only for the kitchen but a nice, gentle cleaner for the tub, sinks, toilets....

The blizzard that hit most of the US did not miss us. So I couldn't pass up the opportunity to post a picture of the "storm of the century." There was still a few hours left of the storm when I took this cold photo. We faired well and had no need to get out and about nor anyone needing to get home. We enjoyed the excitement of God's power shown through nature from the warmth of our sweet home. We are thankful for our safety and comfort. I hope that if any of you were affectedvthat you faired well too.