Tuesday, May 7, 2013
The MOST darling woman sent me this hilarious card for Mother's Day (apparently after reading my previous post).
Mary Estep, THANK YOU! I can't find you on Facebook, so I decided to thank you publicly and share this wonderful card with the world. You are such a treasure!
Happy Mother's Day, ladies! And don't be afraid to circle the block (or the yard) a couple of times if you need a bit of peace and quiet. :)
Posted by Ginny at 6:25 PM
Friday, April 26, 2013
What do you get when a food blogger falls deeply into a food "funk" and has a bad case of writer's block?
Which is kind of what's been happening on the blog lately...a bunch of nothing.
(Thanks to you faithful readers who haven't fled in mass exodus.)
If you want to know "what's going on?", here's the scoop:
1) I'm homeschooling my boys. And I love it. And I hate it. It's so wonderfully rewarding. And it's also so blasted hard that some days I want to run wildly down the street, waving my arms in the air like a mad woman. But I love teaching them; they are doing great and their little sponge brains are soaking up information as fast as I can teach it. Homeschooling has brought every one of our disciplinary issues to the forefront (lesson #1: a mama can't teach children who won't obey her). And yet, despite the hard parts, I am brimming with hope and fervent excitement because---we're getting it all worked out!
I figure our hearts will be nice and tidy just in time for the wrecking ball of preadolescence to strike.
Anyway--homeschooling. It takes a huge bite out of my day.
2) I have this nagging feeling that I need to cut out wheat and dairy from our diets (mine especially). I'm trying to eliminate these ingredients completely, but sheesh. It's been a big personal struggle.
3) And as I continue to remove processed food from our life, and as my family gags and wails and rips their clothing in agony over the meals that I now present to them, I want to again run down the street screaming--but this time with a Butterfinger candy bar in one hand and sloshing can of Diet Coke in the other. Because I'm not going to lie. Sometimes I just want to tear open a package of something and eat it without the croaky voice of "do you know what nasty chemicals are in that?" yelling in my ear.
Besides: I've already got lots of great recipes on the blog to choose from. Please browse through them and make something yummy!
Questions: do you ever get in a food funk? Have you had to make dietary changes? And if so, how did you survive?
Posted by Ginny at 10:52 AM
Monday, April 8, 2013
Memories warm you up from the inside. But they also tear you apart. --Haruki Murakami
Welcome to this month's "reveal date" for the Secret Recipe Club. I was assigned to the well-stocked blog of Jenna, author of "Jenna's Cooking Journey". Jenna started her blog while she and her husband lived in Montana. They moved to New Jersey last summer, and, according to her "About Me" page, she is enjoying having more ingredients at her disposal (I can completely relate!). She has a fantastic number of recipes to choose from on her blog. Her original post for this recipe named the dessert "Better Than Sex Cake". It's a fun, catchy name! Once I started poking the cake, though, I was flooded with the memory of watching my grandma prepare it and so I had to call it what she did: a "poke cake". (Yes -- my immature 7th grade mind is snickering at that name, too.)
You can fiddle with the ingredients as much as you like. Swap out the type of cake (I used gluten-free chocolate) for your favorite flavor, use hot fudge sauce instead of the caramel, Heath Bars or your favorite candy for the topping, etc.
Thanks, Jenna, for having such a great blog! Happy Reveal Day!
Chocolate-Caramel "Poke Cake" with Homemade Toffee
Makes an incredibly rich 13" x 9" cake
1 (18 to 20 ounce) box of cake mix, prepared according to directions
2 (15-ounce) cans sweetened condensed milk
12 ounces caramel sauce, warmed slightly to facilitate pouring (or substitute hot fudge sauce)
8 ounces heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons honey
1 cup homemade toffee, roughly chopped (substitute 3 Heath Bars, if desired)
Bake the cake according to package instructions in a well-greased 13" x 9" pan. As soon as it is done and you remove it from the oven, poke the cake all over with the handle end of a wooden spoon. Then pour the sweetened condensed milk slowly over the cake. You can re-poke the cake with a skewer at this point, if desired, to further absorption. Cover the cake with foil and allow it to sit at room temperature until completely cool.
Warm caramel (in the microwave or in a saucepan of water) and pour it slowly over the surface of the cake (warmed caramel is much easier to pour). Use an offset spatula to spread the caramel evenly over the surface of the cake, if desired.
Cover cake well with foil and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.
When ready to serve, whip the heavy cream with the honey just until stiff peaks form. Spread over the top of the cake with an offset spatula. Sprinkle the chopped toffee (or Heath Bars) over the whipped cream and serve.
(Store in refrigerator.)
Sunday, April 7, 2013
It's very simple to prepare.
*Use a smaller rimmed baking sheet to achieve thicker layers of toffee and chocolate. Toffee pictured above was prepared in a 12" x 12" free-form square.
Printable recipe lives here.
Homemade Toffee (also called Almond Rocha)
Makes 12" x 12" square of toffee; to be broken up as desired
1 cup slivered, sliced, or chopped almonds
1 cup granulated sugar
14 tablespoons butter (margarine will not work)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 (10-ounce) package bittersweet (or semi-sweet) chocolate chips
Spread almonds on a cookie sheet that has been lined with foil. (Note: use a smaller rimmed baking sheet to achieve thicker layers of toffee and chocolate.)
Place butter, salt, and sugar in a large heavy skillet (preferable cast-iron) over medium heat. Stir continuously with a wooden spoon and cook until mixture is thick and is the color of peanut butter. (Cooking times will vary based on skillet size and material...allow anywhere from 15-25 minutes of committed stirring time.)
Once mixture has reached the correct color, immediately pour it evenly over the almonds. Quickly scatter the chocolate chips over the hot toffee mixture. Allow chocolate to rest for 4-5 minutes, then spread over the toffee mixture. Let set until cool and hardened. Break or cut into pieces. Store in airtight container in a cool place.
Monday, March 25, 2013
The north wind howls around the corner of the house: winter's stubborn icy grip has our early springtime under siege.
Scrubbing the dinner dishes tonight, I stared glumly out the kitchen window, noticing that my daffodils are doing perfect downward-facing-dogs into the snow and mud. And this wind is causing strange things to happen to the falling snowflakes: I can watch a single flake quickly dart toward the ground, then sail upward, slowly spiral toward me, then violently crash into the window pane. Very odd indeed.
I believe I've ingested more tea and coffee this winter than ever before. On it's own, that wouldn't be so bad, but it seems my afternoon teatime habit is usually accompanied by a baked good.
Due to our littlest guy's recent tummy issues, we've been inching toward becoming dairy free. In this bread recipe, I used coconut oil and milk for the butter and regular milk. I also used maple syrup and honey in place of the sugar.
Lemon Poppy Seed Bread with Lemon-Honey Glaze (Dairy-Free)
Makes (1) 8x4-inch loaf
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons poppyseeds
3/4 cup softened coconut oil (substitute same amount of butter, if desired)
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup maple syrup
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Juice of 1 large lemon (about 3 tablespoons)
1/8 cup coconut milk (substitute regular milk, if desired)
1/4 cup honey
Zest of 1 large lemon
Juice of 1 large lemon (about 3 tablespoons lemon juice)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place an oven rack in the center of the oven. Prepare the loaf pan by coating with softened coconut oil and lining the bottom with parchment paper. Then coat the top of the parchment with additional coconut oil. (Or just use cooking spray.)
Whisk together the flour(s), baking powder, salt, lemon zest and poppy seeds.
In a large mixing bowl, stir/beat the softened coconut oil with a wooden spoon until it's mostly smooth. Add the honey and maple syrup and continue to mix until the liquids are well-incorporated. Add the eggs, one at a time; scrape down the mixing bowl between each addition. Mix in the vanilla. Add the lemon juice. Stir well.
Pour about half of the wheat mixture into the coconut oil/egg mixture and gently stir. Pour in the coconut milk and stir. Pour in the remaining wheat mixture. Mix just until incorporated.
Scrape the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 50-60 minutes, or until the bread is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. If your oven heats unevenly (like mine does), be sure to rotate the bread around the 30-minute mark.
To make the glaze, whisk together the honey and lemon juice. Set aside.
After the bread is done, place the loaf pan on a wire rack. Allow the bread to cool in the pan for about 15 minutes. Run a sharp knife gently around the edge of the bread to loosen it up a bit. Transfer the bread to a serving platter (while it's still warm). Poke the bread with a small knife or ice pick, if desired, and then slowly pour the glaze all over the bread. Serve warm or allow bread to sit overnight: that's when the best flavor will develop.
Recipe inspired by: The Joy of Baking
Tuesday, March 12, 2013
Such a bouquet can be found in the gorgeous spring issue of Gatherings magazine, founded by my dear childhood friend, Heather Spriggs-Thompson.
Heather invited me to contribute to this issue, and as I pondered on what to submit, I could think of few better ways to welcome the glory of springtime than by hosting an afternoon tea party.
I had so much fun setting up for this photo shoot. My children were at a friend's house for the night, so I indulged in the rare luxury of time and was able to relax and have a blast being creative.
I hope you enjoy my article (beginning on page 34; the recipes begin on page 106).
The magazine is full of beautiful images and wonderful ideas: everything from a quick and easy freshening of a space (hello, contact paper!) on page 60 , to ideas for your Easter table (page 72), to a fantastic treasure-trove of ideas for creative play with your little ones (page 85).
I'd love it if you could take a few minutes and delight in this labor of love of my dear friend.
Be sure to pour yourself a nice cup of tea first, though. Click here for the magazine!
Saturday, March 9, 2013
Highway To The Danger Zone" as I pop one after another into my mouth.
These are DANGEROUS because they are SO INCREDIBLY GOOD.
And the most "unreal" ingredient is powdered sugar. I'm choosing to overlook that at the moment.
"Gonna take you right into the danger zone!"
The next time I make these (tomorrow), I'm going to try double-dipping the eggs to get a thicker chocolate coating. A lot of coating remained after the initial dipping, and I figure, why not make the chocolate a little thicker??
Chocolate-Coated Peanut Butter "Eggs"
Makes 19-20 teaspoon-sized "eggs"
1/2 cup peanut butter (I used "natural" peanut butter); any nut butter will work
1/8 (heaping) teaspoon salt
1/2 cup powdered sugar
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 tablespoons melted coconut oil
3 tablespoons maple syrup
Mix the peanut butter, salt, and powdered sugar until a crumbly dough forms. If it's too moist, add a bit more powdered sugar; too dry, add a bit more peanut butter. (It really depends on the type of peanut butter you use.)
Line a baking sheet with parchment or waxed paper.
Using a teaspoon, scoop out the peanut butter dough. Form into an oval or "egg" shape. Place "egg" on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat until all dough has been used.
Freeze "eggs" until hardened; about an hour.
When ready to coat the "eggs" in chocolate, whisk together the cocoa powder, melted coconut oil, and maple syrup in a medium bowl until smooth.
Insert a toothpick into the bottom of each egg, if desired, to make "lollipops" as you dip the "eggs" into the chocolate coating OR use two spoons to dip and coat the "eggs". Whichever method you choose, work quickly (so the "egg" stays hard/frozen) and dip each one into the chocolate sauce. Place dipped egg on the lined baking sheet. Once all "eggs" have been dipped, freeze until set (15-20 minutes).
*I stored mine in the freezer because the coconut oil in the coating will begin to soften at about 76 degrees F (warm room temperature) and the "eggs" will be a mess to eat.
**This recipe makes quite a bit of the chocolate coating. It is much easier to dip in a deep "pool" of coating rather than trying to scrape together the last bit to dip the one in. That being said, I hate to waste food. Double-dipping the eggs is one idea, as is using the delicious coating as a topping for ice cream, fruit, etc.
Recipe from Chocolate Covered Katie's amazing site. She has some great substitution ideas if you really want to omit the powdered sugar.