Valentine’s Day Breakfast ideas

Take Valentine’s Day/ Snow Day breakfast up a notch this year with these cool spins on egg sammies and p-cakes. If your in the northeast and have been hit by the snow fairies, you probably have a little extra time in the morning to cook these up.

food_photography

food_photography egg sandwich with arugula-1

out of maple syrup?

try a homemade strawberry syrup. Add a few spoonfuls of strawberry jam and some mashed strawberries to a small saucepan and simmer for a few minutes. ricotta pancakes with berries-1

food_photography

Simplified Halloween Decor

homemade halloween decoration

My daughter loves all those sparkly- glittery Styrofoam pumpkins in the stores.

But my inner environmentalist only sees a heap of plastic that has to be packed up and stored somewhere for the other 11 months of the year.

Store- bought- sparkly- pumpkin- request: denied.

She didn’t throw a fit.

she didn’t beg.

she didn’t cry.

She got creative.

She made a beeline for her art supplies and made one herself out of a real pumpkin that will eventually decompose back into the earth.  (Whew)

Along with a hearty dose of glitter.

My 5 year old can’t type yet, but if she could this would be her Sparkly Pumpkin Making Tutorial:

You just paint the pumpkin your favorite color, then you hold it by the stem and sprinkle the glitter all over everywhere.

But make sure you sprinkle glitter on a piece of big paper so it doesn’t get on the floor.

Easy Halloween Decoration

I am shedding tears of pride.

Spot of Tea

hot tea

I have been trying to photograph steam for some time now.  I’m getting close, yes?

The sweltering northeast summers are steamy enough that the mere thought of drinking something with more steam has been completely out of the question for the past 3 months.

But now it’s fall and hot foods are inching their way back into the kitchen and it is possible to drink a cup of coffee outdoors and.not.melt.

Fall- I love you.

Steam- i love you too.

Wanna photograph steam? Strong directional sidelight and a dark backround.

 

 

pavlova cookies

It was my first attempt at meringue.

meringue cookies

And they flopped. They flopped the second and third time, too.

So I can’t sit here and tell you how to make meringue.

But I can tell you that even if you mess up, you can still make it look so pretty that no one will ever know.

meringue cookies

Just call them Pavlova cookies, a sweet wafer like crust destined to be piled with roasted almonds, dark chocolate and fresh strawberries.

cream of tartar, vintage

Send your meringue making tips my way!!

 

rum and lime cocktail

rum and lime

I was a die-hard diet soda drinker for years. I bled diet coke and breathed Camel Lights for over a decade. The funny part is, once I stopped drinking diet soda, I actually lost 8 pounds, with absolutely no other changes in my diet or exercise routine.

So forget the rum and coke. Try this simple sweet-tart-summery cocktail which works with either dark spiced rum or light rum.

Rum and Lime Cocktail

2 ounces Rum

1 ounce fresh squeezed Lime Juice

Simple Syrup, agave syrup or sugar to taste

club soda to fill the glass

rum and lime (4 of 3)

rum and lime (3 of 3)

 

 

 

the cutest cupcake ever

Ok, maybe not ever. But as far as baked goods in pots go, it’s pretty cute.

flower pot cupcakes

Here are the directions for making the cupcake segment.

All you need after that is one  mammoth bag of butter cream frosting and a few skewers with tiny paper flowers attached.

flower pot cupcakes

Happy Mother’s Day!!

Homemade Freeze Pops

homemade freeze pops

Let’s face it, most food that comes in tubes are not healthy.

*But it’s a fact that kids love to eat frozen food from a tube.

(*indicates that it is not really a fact and more of an observation)

homemade freeze pops (2 of 1)-3homemade freeze pops (2 of 1)-4

Luckily, there is an alternative to those sugar laced freezable yogurt tubes…

You can make your own and freeze them in small ziplock bags and your kids won’t even notice because they are just so happy to be eating sans silverware.

homemade freeze pops (2 of 1)-8

Homemade Freezer Pops

This being more of a technique than a recipe, the flavor possibilities are endless and they are super fast and easy to make.

Supplies:

Blender

Snack sized ziplock bags

baking sheet

tape

Ingredients for natural yogurt pops

1 cup plain yogurt

1 cup raspberries (mangoes, strawberries, pineapple or peaches can be substituted)

1/2 cup orange juice or pineapple juice

2 frozen bananas

1 Tablespoon maple syrup ( or more to taste)

2 tsp. vanilla extract

Puree all ingredients in a blender and pour about 1/3 cup into each ziplock bag. Gently press the air out of the bag and seal. Fold the sealed edge over and secure with a piece of tape. lay flat on a baking sheet. Repeat with remaining bags and freeze for 3-4 hours. When ready to eat, snip one end of the bag.

Chocolate Flower Pot Cakes

I grant you full permission to eat one of these healthy chocolate cakes for breakfast on the grounds that…

 

chocolate flower pot cakes

most of the butter and sugar were replaced with a heaping scoop of speckled mashed bananas.

flower pot cakes

Leaving a perfectly balanced and perfectly cute partner to your morning coffee or afternoon tea.

coffee

And wouldn’t they make a totally awesome gift or spring party favor?

flower pot cakes

Chocolate Banana Cake Pots

Recipe adapted from Betty Groff’s Chocolate Cake Recipe

Ingredients

1 cup granulated sugar

8 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

2 eggs

1 cup plain yogurt

1 cup mashed banana

1 tsp. salt

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1/2 cup brewed coffee

2 tsp. vanilla extract

Before you start baking, wash and dry the terra-cotta planters and be sure to remove any stickers. Line the pots with parchment paper or lotus cup liners. The 3 1/2 inch planters are the closest size to standard cupcakes, but larger ones can be used, too.

Directions

Preheat over to 350 degrees.

1.Cream the butter and sugar together in a mixing bowl. Add in the eggs, one at a time until smooth and fluffy.Beat in the yogurt and bananas.

2.In a separate bowl,  blend together the salt, flours, baking soda and cocoa powder.

3.Pour the butter-sugar mixture into the dry ingredients and beat well.

4.Beat in the coffee.

5. Pour the batter into terra cotta planters no more than 2/3rds full.

6. For 3 inch pots, bake 20-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. ( increase baking times for larger pots)

flower pot cakes

 

 

 

 

a juice fast for foodies

A juice fast.

It seems like a good idea.

Even though I don’t  like juice.

So it started out like this…

smoothie

A thick frosty smoothie with frozen mangoes, berries and a handful of kale for good measure.

Always keep an eye out for jammy clad smoothie snatchers who like to nibble on frozen fruit…

smoothie snatcher

Later, mid day calls out for an icy cold coffee…

iced coffee

With a teeny tiny swirl of vanilla whipped cream…

iced coffee

Then a cold beer while waiting for the sun to set…

beer pour

And there you have it.

A juice fast for people who don’t like juice.

Simple Handmade Photo Books

There’s something about flipping through an old photo album that transforms pictures into stories waiting to be told. Holding an actual printed photo has the ability, if you’re lucky, to momentarily bring you back to that moment in time and all that went with it.

There’s something to be said about photo albums, with all their crazy quirks, like how the plastic cellophane pages always stick together, or when a whole bunch of pages fall out  and you find some ambiguous little notes written on the backs of the fallen photos, or when there are three copies of the same photo, because, remember how we used get doubles of the whole roll of film? And half of them came out black or fuzzy? What were we supposed to do with that second set of prints, anyway?

add one of these little “branch” pencils and tie with some ribbon for a nice hostess or teacher gift.

So here is my semi-annual-photo-album-making-project to ensure that when I am at a ripe age of 87 or so and I want to look back on my life, I am sure as hell not going to bother with turning on a computer. I am going to have a shoe box of photos under my bed, and I am going to sit in my chair by a warm sunny window and remember all the great people and all the great memories that I hold in my hands and not on my hard drive.

Here’s how to make some really nice keepsake photo books to share your memories, or give some to your friends and family.

What you’ll need:

2 pieces of 5” x 7” Mat board (you could also use a cereal box or something similar)

Sheet of scrapbook paper or other decorative paper (to be used for the cover) cut 12” X 8.5”

8-10 sheets of cardstock, cut 9.75” x 6.5”, folded in half lengthways

Glue stick

Box cutter

Embroidery floss

Tapestry needle

1. Making the cover. First lay out the decorative sheet of paper face down. Align the two pieces of mat board on top so that there is about 1/2″ between the two cards, and about 3/4″ around all sides. Glue them in place with a glue stick.

Next, fold the corners over so you have little triangles, like the photo above. After folding, cut the triangles off!

Now that the corners are gone, fold and glue down the edges. Let cover dry, and grab your cardstock pages.

Your pages should be folded in half, and in the center seam, draw three tiny equally spaces dots, as shown above.

To bind the pages: Using your embroidery floss and needle, start threading through the center dot. Bring it back through the back of the next hole. Thread it back through the center again. Next, thread it through the third dot. It should end up in the front of the seam. Tie the loose ends together.

It should look something like this… trim the ends and secure with a small dab of glue.

Optional step: If the ends of the pages are uneven and ragged, trim them using a straight edge and a box cutter.

To complete the book and connect the pages and cover, glue the first and last pages to the cover. Line it up so that there is an even amount of space all around. This is the tricky part and takes a bit of practice. Just make sure to really smooth out the page after it is glued down, using a bonefolder or  a credit card. As it is drying, weight it down with a large book or rock.