1
Dainty Ladies Cookies
2
Chinese Fried Rice With Lettuce
3
Getting Tasty With Taste of Nature
4
Royal Cheddar Cheese Soup
5
First Full Spring Garden Update – It’s started!
6
Slow Cooked Sausage and Sauerkraut
7
Time to Pick Bok Choy in the Garden!
8
Cats and Reed + Rader
9
Painting With Cats
10
Spicy Italian Crushed Tomato Sauce
11
Mary’s Special Ingredients Box Review
12
Get Your Organizing On Track!
13
The Best Collard Greens
14
Peanut Butter and Pickles Sandwich + Giveaway!
15
Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Pie Pudding
16
Beat Average! #TeamGNC
17
The Pepper Plant Seedling That Just Won’t Die
18
Tomato Macaroni and Cheese
19
A Look Into Frances Palmer’s Garden
20
How to Survive Garden Allergies!

Dainty Ladies Cookies

For today’s recipe we’re going to make some Dainty Ladies Cookies, perfect for your next High Tea!  

Hi Kitty Cats, are you busy?  Of course you are.  Look at you all working hard at taking a afternoon nap together.    But would you like to come to a tea party?  I promise it’ll be fun! Yes, you would? Awesome!
  Dainty Ladies Cookies

Guess what.. you’re invited too!

This recipe is another one inspired by my Downton Abbey Cookbook (see this post for more details).  So many of you guys told me that I need to start watching the show so you have my word I’m going to start as soon as I catch up on Mad Men!    Dainty Ladies cookies were served primarily to female guests during the Edwardian Era during High Tea.   This recipe is thought of as a extra special treat because it has coconut in it.  Because of the cost of importing coconut to Great Britain during this time guests would think of this as a very special occasion if these cookies were served.  How fancy was coconut? If the abbey had coconut it was locked up and only the butler of the house would have the key!

During High Tea many of the women wear white gloves.  Because these cookies are buttery women would remove their right glove and retrieve a cookie that the footman was presenting them.  We wouldn’t want those beautiful gloves getting all buttery now, would we?
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Hope you enjoyed the cookies FiFi Bofinkles.. I know you did by the amount of licking our lips you did afterwards. 🙂
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Dainty Ladies Cookies
Print
Ingredients
  1. 2 cups flour
  2. 1 cup flaked coconut
  3. 1 cup rolled oats
  4. 1 teaspoon baking soda
  5. 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  6. 1 pinch salt
  7. 1 cup butter
  8. 1 tablespoon corn syrup
  9. 2 tablespoons water
  10. 1 tablespoon vanilla
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325. Line the bottom of a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicon sheet.
  2. In a large bowl whisk together flour, coconut, rolled oats, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt.
  3. In a small pan over medium heat melt the butter into the corn syrup and water. Once the butter has melted, stir in the vanilla.
  4. Pour the butter mixture into the flour mixture and stir until it is combined.
  5. Let the dough sit for 5 minutes for the oats to soak up the butter mixture.
  6. Roll into tablespoon size balls.
  7. Place in the oven and bake for 12 minutes.
  8. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
  9. Enjoy
Notes
  1. Makes 32 cookies.
Adapted from Edwardian Cooking, The Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook by Larry Edwards
Adapted from Edwardian Cooking, The Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook by Larry Edwards
Brooklyn Farm Girl http://brooklynfarmgirl.com/
I hope you guys have a great weekend!  Enjoy it.. and eat some cookies!

Chinese Fried Rice With Lettuce

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Thanks to Minute® Rice for sponsoring this easy to make Fried Rice recipe post.  All opinions are my own.    

This Chinese Fried Rice recipe is full of vegetables and tastes just like Takeout! 1 1/2 cup of lettuce is used making this a great way to use up your garden lettuce!

We have a ton of lettuce right now in our garden. You might have seen a sneak peak of our lettuce earlier this week in the Garden Update, but if you saw my refrigerator today you might go running in fear!  Lettuce is awesome, but when you have multiple giant lettuce heads staring at you with eyes that say “Eat me before I go bad” then you start to feel the stress!   That is one reason (there’s many) that I love gardening, it makes me explore ingredients and go outside my regular cooking box.   I have a few recipes coming up in the next week that involve lettuce and they’re all ones that I wouldn’t traditionally think of adding lettuce but since I want to use my harvest I get to have some kitchen fun and do some new ideas.   Because of this Chinese Fried Rice with Lettuce was born!

This Fried Rice is delicious and so full of vegetables.  It tastes just like Takeout Fried Rice but because you’re making it in your own kitchen you can be sure it’s much healthier for you!   Many times you throw vegetables in your rice but often times lettuce gets looked over… but not here!  In this recipe we’re going to throw a ton of chopped up lettuce and eat away!    

This Chinese Fried Rice recipe is full of vegetables and tastes just like Takeout! 1 1/2 cup of lettuce is used making this a great way to use up your garden lettuce!

This Chinese Fried Rice recipe is full of vegetables and tastes just like Takeout! 1 1/2 cup of lettuce is used making this a great way to use up your garden lettuce!

I love how easy and filling rice can be.  Did you know September is National Rice Month?   Perfect timing for this recipe!  I usually use White Rice for this recipe but you could also use Whole Grain Brown Rice.   Minute® Rice is the best for weeknight meals because it’s quick and easy prepare.  We always have some in our pantry!  You’ll have great-tasting fluffy white rice in just 5 minutes if you use Minute® White Rice. If you prefer the nutty, rich flavor of brown rice then your Minute® Whole Grain Brown Rice will be ready in 10 minutes.   Both Minute Brown and White Rice are gluten free and non GMO, so this is perfect for a gluten free diet too!

For more recipe ideas using Minute Rice make sure to sign up for the The Riceipe Club!

This Chinese Fried Rice recipe is full of vegetables and tastes just like Takeout! 1 1/2 cup of lettuce is used making this a great way to use up your garden lettuce!

Enjoy this Chinese Fried Rice With Lettuce for dinner sometime soon!

This Chinese Fried Rice recipe is full of vegetables and tastes just like Takeout! 1 1/2 cup of lettuce is used making this a great way to use up your garden lettuce!

 

Chinese Fried Rice With Lettuce
Print
Ingredients
  1. 2 cups uncooked instant rice
  2. 2 cups beef broth
  3. 2/3 cup chopped carrots
  4. 3/4 cup frozen green peas
  5. 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  6. 3 eggs
  7. 1 1/2 cup chopped lettuce
  8. 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  9. 1/4 cup oyster sauce
  10. sesame oil to taste (don't skip this!)
Instructions
  1. Cook rice according to box. Instead of water, cook rice in beef broth.
  2. In a small pot boil carrots in water for 3 minutes. Drop frozen peas into water, boil for 1 more minute, drain.
  3. Heat large pan over medium high heat. Pour in vegetable oil then stir in carrots and peas. Cook for 1 minute.
  4. Crack in eggs and stir them quickly to scramble them with carrots and peas.
  5. Add in cooked rice, lettuce, soy sauce and oyster sauce. Stir to combine everything together.
  6. Add sesame oil to taste on top. Stir again.
  7. Serve and enjoy!
Brooklyn Farm Girl http://brooklynfarmgirl.com/

This Chinese Fried Rice recipe is full of vegetables and tastes just like Takeout! 1 1/2 cup of lettuce is used making this a great way to use up your garden lettuce!

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Minute® Rice.

Getting Tasty With Taste of Nature

 I need to tell you about my new delicious obsession… Taste of Nature bars!  Lately I have became super obsessed with their Canadian Maple Forest bars so I just had to tell you about them!  

Did you know that 98% of Americans snack but 9 in 10 (85%) admit they find healthy snacking to be difficult? I totally fit into this category. Even as a gardener of many vegetables it’s really easy to grab a box of high calorie crackers or sweet pastries instead of going for something that is much better for your body.  Many people say that it’s hard to find a healthy snack that is actually good tasting and I can totally understand this too.  Have you tried to eat healthy, bought the said snack, went home, tasted them and just stared into space depressed because it just tastes awful.  That totally isn’t going to help you eat healthy!    I am so excited that I found a snack bar that is delicious (I’m serious, I’m talking NOM NOM NOM knock your socks off good) and healthy.

Recently I had a afternoon full of friends for a taste party that also involved me trying to beat my record of bouncing a ball up in air with the fun paddle ball sets!

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Taste of Nature

Here are the 6 flavors that were tasted and loved.  Many of friends were raving about the Persian Pomegranate Garden bar and they were the first to be completely gone.  The Persian Pomegranate Garden bars  have pomegranates, figs and tasty walnuts in them. The entire ingredients list is cashews, walnuts, agave nectar, figs, cranberries, apples, pomegranate juice concentrate, brown rice syrup, whole grain brown rice crisps, raspberries, sunflower oil blend and agar.  They are only 160 calories as well which also received rave reviews.  In fact I think some friends even took one and threw them in their purse when they needed that next day afternoon snack! 42 percent of snackers say they are most likely to have a unhealthy snack between 2:00PM and 5:00PM so is a great substitution to grab instead!

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Let me introduce you to my new love interest, Canadian Maple Forest bars from Taste of Nature.    These bars include pecans, apricots, Brazil nuts, agave nectar, brown rice syrup, raisins, whole grain brown rice crisps, maple syrup, sunflower oil blend, maple flavour, vanilla flavour, sea salt and agar.  Oh hello beautiful.   I am totally in love with these.
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Some facts for you:
Taste of Nature comes in 6 super delicious flavors in the US: Brazilian Nut Festival, California Almond Valley, Quebec Cranberry Carnival, Canadian Maple Forest, Himalayan Goji Summit, Persian Pomegranate Garden
The bars are certified organic, gluten-free certified, non-gmo project verified packed with real nuts, fruits and grains. There’s nothing scary, artificial or chemical filled in these bars.
They are under 200 calories a bar. 
They are $1.99 a piece. 

Click here for more information on Where to Buy.  I have a bunch of locations nearby that stock them (yes!).  Both Fairway and Back To The Land in Brooklyn stock them so those are my 2 go to places.  

You can find out more about Taste of Nature on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

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I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Royal Cheddar Cheese Soup

In today’s recipe we’re going to go back to the Edwardian era and make classically delicious Royal Cheddar Cheese Soup.

I have a new favorite cookbook.  It’s called Edwardian Cooking, The Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook by Larry Edwards.  I don’t even watch Downton Abbey (YET) and I’m already obsessed.  The cookbook  includes 80 recipes from Sweet to Savory that include Breads, Side Dishes, Entrees, Desserts.  In the opening the author states “Long before there was the rage of organic food, sustained living and natural eating, there was the abbeys of Great Britain. Though Downton Abbey is a fictitious abbey, what we see dramatized is very real.  Also very real in the television dramatization is the food”.  

Edwardian Cooking
(Those cookies are coming to the blog soon!)

Everything that left the kitchen during this Era was made from scratch. The abbey cook would start their day around 6AM and the day would last 18 hours.  They would prepare 8 meals a day (including meals for the abbey staff). Besides the meals they would also prepare food for the High Teas and many social gatherings on the grounds of the Abbey. Hard work, right?

For this recipe here I have to warn you that this Royal Cheddar Cheese Soup is delicious.  Not only was it good for dinner but I made so much we also had it for leftovers the following day and it even warmed up beautifully.   I’m also pretty proud of myself because this recipe calls for onions and since they are pureed up I totally ate (slurped) them and enjoyed every minute of it!  

Royal Cheddar Cheese Soup

During the Edwardian era it was pratically required that if you served bread with a meal, you had to serve soup. These people knew how to live!  The most popular soup among the aristocrats was the smooth Royal Cheddar Cheese Soup.  The book describes it as the “quintessental English soup” as it includes potatoes, onions, cream and cheese.  When this soup was served it was never served hot.  It was always served at room temperature so guests at the abbey would not have to blow on the soup (the horror!).  

Lastly, it’s cool to note this Soup was always served at dinners when special guests were present.. so consider yourself fancy and enjoy this delicious Satiny Smooth Soup!

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Royal Cheddar Cheese Soup
Print
Ingredients
  1. 1 tablespoon butter
  2. 2 yellow onions, peeled and chopped
  3. 2 potatoes, peeled and chopped
  4. 4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  5. 6 cups chicken stock
  6. 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  7. 1 cup heavy cream
  8. 2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
  9. 1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
  10. 3 tablespoons minced chives or grated carrots
Instructions
  1. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onions, potatoes, and garlic and sauté 10 minutes.
  2. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to simmer and cook 10 minutes.
  3. Remove the contents of the saucepan to a food processor and puree.
  4. In the saucepan, over medium heat, whisk together the dry mustard and heavy cream.
  5. Stir the puree into the saucepan and simmer 5 minutes.
  6. Stir in the Cheddar cheese and hot sauce and keep stirring until the cheese has melted.
  7. Ladle into serving bowls, top with some chives or carrots, and serve.
Adapted from Edwardian Cooking, The Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook by Larry Edwards
Adapted from Edwardian Cooking, The Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook by Larry Edwards
Brooklyn Farm Girl http://brooklynfarmgirl.com/

First Full Spring Garden Update – It’s started!

 Are you guys ready for the first big garden update of the year? I sure am! 

So let’s dive in and see how the garden is looking in the beginning months of growing season.  All these pictures were taken on Sunday where we did a full day of hard garden work (while lathering on SPF 1 million).   This post is picture heavy as I’m going to take you on a full tour and introduce you to every single vegetable we’re growing.  Besides my usual harvest posts I’m going to continue to do full garden updates about every 2 weeks so make sure you keep checking back to watch  their progress!

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We were just planting radish seeds and now they’re ready to be eaten.  Expect a radish harvest post very soon!

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Here are the 5 gallon buckets that house the strawberry plants.  The winter was pretty harsh on the strawberries so it’s nice to see them finally looking strawberry lovely again.  I’m interested in trying to grow more in the strawberry family so we just got ourselves a raspberry plant to test out.  Because it takes a while… check back next year for a update, hahaha.

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This 8 feet long container used to house carrots, kale and onions but it’s totally turned into the kale crazy  container.  As you can see there are 6 growing kale plants already but there are 12 more babies growing there.  How did this happen?  Well there were baby kales that just popped up and Mama Kale can’t say goodbye.. so more kale for us!

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Beautiful kale babes. I say beautiful alot in Garden Update posts. I can’t control myself.

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This is just a ton of onions.  They all look pretty great.  

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Now on to the Sugar Snap Peas – yeah!  I mentioned in a past post that we went Sugar Snap Pea wild this year and are growing 3 boxes.  So far the box all the way in the back is winning the race on who will grow to the top first. This is Sugar Snap Pea Papa helping his peas climb to the top.

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These are the other 2 boxes that are beginning to take off and have begun climbing up the tall fence.  Grow peas grow!

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I love how the peas naturally attach themselves and grow.  It makes my heart pitter patter with garden happiness. 

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In one of the Sugar Snap Peas we have a bunch of lettuce heads growing up front. The lettuce grew absolutely amazing this Spring and I will be doing a full post on their beauty and amazingness very soon as it’s currently Lettucepalozza 2014 at our house. 

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Lettuce you rule.  Really.

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I mean seriously look at you bushy green beauties! *Does the lettuce dance*.

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You read about a bok choy harvest last week but here’s 6 more plants.   Cutting the outside leaves was a great idea as the plants are growing back nicely again.

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Now let’s look at some of my favorites (shhhhh)…. broccoli and cauliflower!

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The broccoli is starting to grow.  Hoping we’ll be able to harvest in 2-3 weeks.

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All the broccoli plants have heads on them! The cauliflower isn’t visible yet but I looked around and saw their baby heads that I just stared at adoringly.

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About this time in the garden a lady bug flew at me and landed on my face making me scream as I thought it was a spider (the horror!).  Then after I learned it was a ladybug I felt horrible.  We then placed her in the broccoli and I apologized to her a million times.

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OH YEAH! Tomato and pepper time!  We have tomatoes and peppers in 2 different sets.  This is set 1.  The 3 containers in the back are beef and roma tomatoes.  The 2 containers up front are pepper plants, both jalapeno and bell pepper plants. 

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This is a beautiful Roma tomato plant.   You are so lovely. You will turn into delicious salsa. 

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This is section 2.  The plants in the top left are cherry tomato plants.  The plants in the top right are more pepper plants.  The plants in the bottom right are tomatillos!

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3 bushy cherry tomato plants! Can’t wait to get these tomatoes growing so I can just throw them in my mouth nonstop.

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I can’t believe we grew this many peppers this year.  I really can’t.

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We usually have 1 container of 3 pepper plants and this year we have 3 containers of 12 plants.  It’s because we couldn’t kill the seedlings.  Our hearts are too big.

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This is the first year growing tomatillo plants.  Right now we have 3 growing and there will be 3 more added from downstairs when they’re ready for the heat.

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This section here are seedlings that were just transplanted.  We put up this fabric to harden them off as the sun is very harsh to new plants.  What’s underneath?

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We have 2 pumpkin plants, also favorites (shhhh).

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Then a bunch of cucumber and watermelon plants.   Soon cantaloupes will be added!

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And just to show some love, some people ask me if we grow flowers in the garden.  The answer is not really as we stick to vegetables but I wanted to show you the flowers we do grow.  

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We recently added a Forsythia bush to our garden.  At first we thought this could possibly be too big for the garden but then we thought… nah! Let’s do it!

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This lovely fellow was planted with love.  Grow strong!

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This is our azalea that is a few years old.  She’s always so pretty.

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And then this is my favorite girl (shhhh), rhododendron.  I picked her out one year specifically because she had a giant arm hanging off one side.  Matthew scoured at me because I always pick the most quirky looking plants (also Christmas trees) but he loves her just as much as me now.

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Also who knew Brussels Sprouts plants produced such beautiful flowers!  I would almost grow them just for the flowers…

I grow Brussels Sprouts for the flowers, aren't they gorgeous? Vegetable flowers! #brusselssprouts #vegetables #flowers #bouquet #home #garden #gardenchat #citygarden #urbanfarming #plant
Aren’t they just beauties?  Half vegetables, half flowers, all gorgeous.

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 Hope you guys enjoyed the first full garden update of the year!  Let me know in the comments what your garden looks like and what you’re growing!

Happy gardening everyone!

Slow Cooked Sausage and Sauerkraut

This Slow Coked Sausage and Sauerkraut will leave you feeling full and happy!

 A few weeks ago I was left with a cup of sauerkraut.  Being a person that doesn’t like any food to go waste I was going crazy with what to do with it.  We used some of it up on chili cheese dogs but what was going to be next?  Then I thought of all the great Polish dishes I ate as a kid.  There was always sauerkraut alongside meat and mashed potatoes so that’s how this Slow Coked Sausage and Sauerkraut recipe was created.

It’s funny how recipes that just came out of no where end up being your favorite.  This slow cooked dish was a huge hit at the dinner table leaving it a now favorite and often requested meal.   The meat becomes so tender and juicy in the slow cooker and it picks up the spices of the brown sugar giving it a slight sweet taste.  I served this on mashed potatoes which I would totally recommend but you could also serve over rice or noodles. For mashed potatoes I would always recommend this recipe, it’s a favorite!

So next time you’re wondering what’s for dinner, give this Slow Coked Sausage and Sauerkraut a shot. I think you will love it just as much as we do!

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Slow Coked Sausage and Sauerkraut

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 Sausage

Slow Coked Sausage and Sauerkraut
Print
Ingredients
  1. 1 cup sauerkraut
  2. 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  3. 1 pound of Italian sausage cut up into 1-2 inch pieces
  4. 1/2 onion sliced
  5. 1/4 cup water
Instructions
  1. In a bowl combine the sauerkraut and brown sugar. Place this into slow cooker.
  2. Next arrange the sausage pieces and onion over the sauerkraut.
  3. Pour water on top.
  4. Cook on high for 2 hours, checking occasionally to make sure there is still water.
  5. Reduce to low and cook for 2 more hours.
  6. Serve over mashed potatoes.
Brooklyn Farm Girl http://brooklynfarmgirl.com/

Time to Pick Bok Choy in the Garden!

*Squeals* *Dances* *Smiles* *Does a cartwheel*. Just kidding, I could never do a cartwheel. In the playground all the pretty little girls were always flipping around while I was playing basketball or trying to talk people into playing BINGO with me. But I am squealing, dancing and smiling…. it’s time to start picking vegetables in the garden! This makes me one happy girl!

Right now we’re getting hammered with Lettuce and Bok Choy picking in the garden. For a girl who used to dislike lettuce, I am sure eating it by the handful now.. but that’s another post! This one is all about one of my favorite greens, Bok Choy! Last year we grew some over the Winter in the green house and it worked pretty well but this Spring was the first time we grew them normal like our other plants. The results are astounding… we already have a contestant in the happiest plant of 2014 category!

For stats, the seeds were planted January 29 and transplanted outside on April 1st. These plants are growing MASSIVE! I really can’t say enough great things about their growth. They are wide, bushy and they just keep growing. So let’s pick some of the first harvest of the season… are you excited?

Remember when the bok choy were just baby seedlings? Oh those were the days…
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Then they started growing…
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Then suddenly they were full force ahead adult bok choy mode!
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You guys just grew up so quick! It feels like just yesterday I was planting your little seeds.First Bok Choy Harvest 2014_1

You used to be small and weak and scared of the wind… and now you’re so strong you can live through tough storms!
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From seed to these massive beauties.  A bok choy selfie is needed!
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But now it’s time to pick the bok choy for dinner!   I’m totally making this noodle dish!   Did you know that if you don’t pick the entire plant but instead just cut off the outside leaves the plant will keep growing?  I know, it’s amazing. That means that you can grow a plant, cut, then keep on growing!  I would highly suggest this method as you’re going to get double the yield.  To do this just cut about 2 inches from the base on the outside leaves.  This is a great video that shows you how to cut it too.
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And go all the way around the plant to cut all the leaves..
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We tend to leave a few leaves inside so the plant won’t freak out but instead will keep  growing.  This is how we left the plant after cutting.
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In just 1 week the plant already looks like this again. Do you see all the new growth around the base and the outside leaves?  
Bok Choy Regrowing

And then once all your bok choy is cut, start thinking about recipes!
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And continue to be in love with how green and beautiful it is!  Goodness I am in love with you bok choy.
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Good job baby bok choy. Mama and Papa love you.
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Thanks for harvesting with me! 

Have you grown bok choy before?  Do you treat your plants like babies too?

Cats and Reed + Rader

I’m totally going to shock you here… but I love cats! Ok maybe that’s not shocking at all, but it was reason to just yell out “I love cats!”.  I love the entire population of cats! 

We were shooting the entire past weekend and unfortunately there was no cats on set.  You know how much this breaks my heart but don’t worry, there was plenty of cat gushing with friends that we work with!   The shoot was a fashion project we’re working on and that got me thinking about cats in fashion.  You all know I’m already obsessed with cat clothes, but how about we go a step further and investigate cats that roam fashion sets and end up in the final pictures?

Matthew and my own work  features plenty of cats! We’ve done plenty of gifs, videos and interactive projects that put our cat love on full display. Here’s just a few that I’d love to show you guys!  Being inspired by cats is totally my daily fancy!

The most known one is a video we made for Vice Magazine.  The film is called “I Hate Kitties” but don’t get the idea that we hate kitties, that’s not true at all.  The video was done in good spirits but expresses that feeling when cats wake you up at 6AM with a meow to be fed, you get out of bed and run into the wall while stubbing your toe, feed your cat and then head back to bed. Then the cat appears on your belly with a look that says “I didn’t want food. Sucker.”.  

Last year we were approached by the fine folks at Snapple to create a video about cats.  The video was based on their under the lid facts. The fact for our project was Snapple Real Fact #685: Dogs can make about 10 sounds, cats make about 100.  So we decided to go right in and show how brilliant cats are with our spelling bee.    

Don’t you love a behind the scenes look at our Snapple video too featuring Brother Bear?
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For Christmas we did a GIF story for Flair Magazine. One of the shots included a grumpy cat lady.
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Then we did a V MAN / Marc Jacobs story that featured some cat rubbing. Don’t be terrified, the cats are happy.
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For a interactive piece last year we projection mapped colors on a 3D cat that we created.  The final result was a installation piece called CAT GOD. Meow.  Here’s a look at it during the day when it’s not lit up.. with me on Matthew’s shoulders (he made me do it, I was scared!).
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Finally, even a talk we gave in Toronto in April had cats in the title.  Cats, Cats, Cats! Love, Love, Love.
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And what would be a post with our projects be without some snapshots of our cats behind the scenes?  Being loved on set is their daily fancy.  Kitties love lots of attention… especially Xanadu! I really love all the models who have shown Xanadu love over the years…. she tends to always want to jump into the shots!
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Hope you guys liked taking a look behind the scenes of our cat happy work! 
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What’s your daily fancy? Follow Fancy Feast’s new Tumblr to read the #DailyFancies of fancy cats and passionate cat owners. I’m really loving the interviews they are doing with cat loving bloggers so check it out!

And check out my other cat related post I made today about painting with cats!  It’s cat day Wednesday! 

Painting With Cats

Have you ever tried to paint a wall alongside a cat? How about 4 cats? So the journey begins..

For the past few years we have had a wall unpainted that sits behind my desk. It’s called the bike wall as it houses the bikes on it.  The wall was supposed to be painted right after construction but for some reason that never happened so I have just been looking at a ugly wall for quite some time.  Because I could not put up with it anymore I told myself in May that wall would be painted!  I was pretty excited to do this and thought it would be simple.. but then some furry critters entered the painting day.

First up I wanted to tell you about the paint I chose.  I’ve heard great things about BEHR’s Marquee Interior Paint and Primer as it’s a one coat color that gets results quickly.  It’s paint + primer in one so it means no waiting around.. quick quick quick! What’s even more quicker? It has low VOC in it that allows the paint to dry faster which means you could paint and entertain a room in the same weekend.  Because I knew this was the bike wall I needed a paint that would be able to handle mud and wet stains that bike tires could cause.  With this paint it’s scrubbable which is perfect for the project at hand.  This paint was found at my local Home Depot and you can check your store availability here if you’re interested.  There’s 372 colors to pick from so they pretty much have every shade you are looking for.  We went with Siberian Ice Eggshell which is a icy blue shade.  I have to say that it was pretty dead on perfect with the swatch which is a great positive.  Did you ever buy a paint and it looks nothing like the swatch?  Terrible, I know.  A gallon retails at around $40 which I do find pricey for normal paint but since it has the primer mixed in and is quick drying, the results pay for themselves.  If you don’t need a gallon they also have 8 oz samples.  The paints come in matte, eggshame enamel and semi-gloss enamel.  What I’m saying is this paint rules!  Do-it-yourselfers can visit behr.com/marquee to learn more about the product and access robust how-to information.  

So now on to painting with the cats!
This was the wall to begin with.  It’s color was “natural” as it was never painted. Also I know the Grumpy Cat poster is a great touch.
Painting With Cats

In the same afternoon with only one coat of paint I was able to have a already transformed looking wall!
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I really love that color is subtle and not overwhelming.  With my purple wall I wanted something that wouldn’t outdo it.  As the day goes on the shadows get darker in our loft the color gets slightly darker making the icy blue stand out.
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I also painted a canvas with this color to see how it would work with crafts.  We used this canvas for a backdrop for a upcoming project and the color really stuck well to the canvas.   Canvas really soaks up paint so it goes quicker in this way but the color was spot on.
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Now on to the painting…

The afternoon started with some paint and a roller.  I thought everything was going to be great…
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Then I got the ladder out and I knew this was going to be a adventure.  Hi Goblin.. one cat shows up.
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And then once the cats realized there was plastic on the floor Wrestlemania began with the boys.  In this picture Brother and Goblin are both on the plastic while Xanadu lives on her ladder as the referee.  The boys love to roll around and wrestle on the plastic. It’s madness.   They also love seeing how their nails can rip the plastic.  It’s great fun for everyone except me.
Planned on painting but I have bad helpers.  1 wont get off the ladder and the other 2 are wrapped in plastic. #goblin #cats #cat #persiancat #Persian #fluffy #fluffball #kitten #furry #catsofinstagram  #siamesecat #mainecoon #home #diy #painting #design

Finally I got them to calm down a bit and they napped on a box.
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Then Xanadu decided that while the paint was drying she was going to head back to the top of the ladder again.  Xanadu has always been a fan of ladders.  She often sleeps on top of them when they are out.
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In the past few weeks Goblin has really been investigating Xanadu’s methods of play.  Xanadu is very active and smart and generally gets into everything so Goblin is very curious about how she does it.  When the moment came where I saw Goblin thinking about climbing the ladder I knew this was going to go bad.  She was teaching him all her tricks.
Xany Goblin

So after a bit of figuring out how to get on top of the ladder, Goblin climbed slowly to the top.  Xanadu was not pleased at all and tried to bite his ear off.  After all, it is her ladder.
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But finally Xanadu gave up because Goblin would just not let go of the ladder.  She jumped down and Goblin stayed hanging onto the ladder for the next 3 hours because he has no idea how to get down.  Eventually we had to save him.  Good job Goblin.
Congrats Goblin, you finally climbed to the top of the ladder… but how are you going to get down?  #goblin #cats #cat #persiancat #Persian #fluffy #fluffball #kitten #furry #catsofinstagram #ilovemycat #grey

Are your cats curious too?  Tell me stories in the comments!

And check out my other cat related post I made today about cats in our work!  It’s cat day Wednesday! 

Spicy Italian Crushed Tomato Sauce

Doesn’t a big bowl of pasta just fill you up with happiness for dinner?  How about we add a touch of spice with some crushed tomatoes?  Magic, right?

That’s how I feel about this recipe, it’s absolutely magical.  I think most times when we think of tomato sauce it doesn’t have that kick to it, but this Spicy Italian Crushed Tomato Sauce definitely has some spice.   It’s not overly spicy, but there’s enough that gives it a extra zip zap taste.    Also, can we talk about the aroma that that this sauce has?  It’s delicious.  If you give this sauce a shot, just watch your  kitchen start to fill up with people asking when dinner is ready.   Tell them them a few more minutes and kick them out of your kitchen.  Then take a few big spoonfuls of this sauce first. 

Speaking of tomatoes… our tomatoes have adjusted from their transplanting period and are now firm in their containers.  I love seeing them start to add a few inches of height and turn a nice green color.  Expect a big garden update post at the end of this week!  The other fresh star of this recipe is the basil.  I was able to throw in a big bunch of basil chopped up in this sauce and it was a perfect fit (not to mention the smell was amazing!).  Don’t you just love fresh basil?  Mmmm!

Spicy Crushed Tomato Sauce

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You can totally use whatever pasta you want to use.  This was one of those nights where I threw a bunch of quarter filled boxes together for a pasta mix!

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 Now go on and have a great pasta dinner tonight.. enjoy!

Spicy Italian Crushed Tomato Sauce
Print
Ingredients
  1. 1/4 cup olive oil
  2. 6 cloves garlic, minced
  3. 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  4. 1 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes (or fresh crushed tomatoes)
  5. 1 8 oz can of tomato sauce
  6. 1 bunch of fresh basil, chopped up
  7. 1 small bell pepper, chopped up
  8. 1 12 ounce package dried pasta of choice
Instructions
  1. Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add garlic and saute for 2 minutes.
  2. Add red pepper flakes and saute for 1 minute.
  3. Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, basil and pepper.
  4. Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring a few times.
  5. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add your pasta of choice and cook as instructed on box. Drain.
  6. Add pasta sauce to pasta and stir.
  7. Serve hot and enjoy.
Brooklyn Farm Girl http://brooklynfarmgirl.com/

Mary’s Special Ingredients Box Review

Recently I got to review a box of MARY’s secret ingredients (MSI).  MSI is a limited edition culinary surprise box containing unique gourmet, artisanal ingredients along with small kitchen products.  Each season, a box of surprise goodies will be delivered to your door to enjoy.  If you don’t know what to do with the products, don’t worry as each ingredient in the box will be used in a recipe on the LOVE blog.  

I love box ideas because 1) I really like surprise gifts in the mail.  2) I love to discover new snacks and cooking items.  Getting a new sauce or herb will make me think outside of my regular kitchen box and be creative.      Also I love that 10% of profits get donated to Feed The Children Organization.

If you’re interested sign up at Mary’s Secret Ingredients.  For all the gourmet products I got it’s well worth the $25.95 price tag as I know how much this stuff costs in the store!  Sign up for the Summer box, Autumn box or Winter box or go crazy and treat yourself to all 3.  This makes a awesome gift as well, so think of upcoming foodie friends birthdays or anniversaries!  They will love you for it!  My birthday is October 24, so you know. 😉

Let’s look at the box!  With my 2 helpers.. Xanadu and Goblin!

MARY’s secret ingredients
First up, it’s wrapped beautifully and very organized!

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I was already oohing and ahhing.  How long did these wafer cookies last in my kitchen? Less than 24 hours.  The next day I went for a wafer cookie and they were GONE.  The packaging was GONE.  I texted Matthew “WHERE ARE THE WAFERS!!!!!”.  He texted me that he ate the rest during the middle of the night.  I was heart broken.  Seriously. 

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These applewood smoked meats were also delicious.  They lasted 2 days I think.  I would totally buy these if I saw them in the store!

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A big jar of fresh oregano that smells as good as you think it does!

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Probably the highlight of the box for me (ok besides the wafer cookies) is this peppermint tea.  Peppermint tea is one of my favs to enjoy and calm down with.

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Even better is that it’s made right here in Brooklyn by Calmer Sutra Teas!

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These were little pieces of cheeses that had a hint of spice to it.  

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This was a delicious brine that has me bursting with ideas! Goblin is pretty excited too.

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So go ahead and put some LOVE in your cooking!

I hope you go ahead and try a box out, I really think you will love it!

Get Your Organizing On Track!

This shop is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® and Rubbermaid, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #FastTrack http://my-disclosur.es/RgFrEH

Does anyone else fear when walking into your garage or opening a closet that basketballs, screw drivers or boxes will fall on you?  I’m glad you can relate!  We have a storage closet at the end of our loft which houses some of Matthew’s tools (boy loves his power tools), sporting equipment, boxes that we can’t part with just yet, garden supplies, photo equipment and props for future/past projects.  It’s not strange to walk into this closet and see tools alongside long beautiful wigs.  Well ok, it’s not strange for me, but the unorganized nature of this drives me crazy.
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When I was browsing the aisles of my beloved Target, I came across The Rubbermaid FastTrack 5 Piece Kit that looked like it would be perfect to put high on our walls for more organized storage. I was hoping this could hold some electrical cords that always get tangled, paint cans, tools, etc.  So I threw it in my cart and off I went to browse around Target because I never leave Target with buying just 1 item.  Goodness, I love that place.
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What I loved about this Kit was right out of the box it was so easy to set up. Matthew literally snapped it together in a minute and by the time I grabbed my camera to take pictures (my way of helping) he already had it screwed into the wall.  The boy moves quick when it comes to setting things up!Target Rubbermaid FastTrack_3

And just like that things were looking better in our storage space!
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And a before and after:
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I really love these kits as you can build your ideal storage system for anything and everything.   This is perfect for garages, garden sheds or closets.   I’m already thinking about building a entire system of these kits for our garden storage on the roof.  Just the idea of getting all of our shovels organized makes me excited!

From May 18, 2014 to May 24, 2014 the FastTrack kit is on sale for $28.99 (regular price $33.99) so I would grab my bag and run to Target as soon as possible!   Are you doing any Spring/Summer time cleaning? 

The Best Collard Greens

I have been saving up this recipe for a few months anxiously awaiting to share it with you guys. The time has come, the best collard greens are here!

My obsession with collards came last year when I had some authentic ones down South. From there I was obsessed.  I came home, got a few bunches of collard greens and promised myself I would try to learn to make them just as good (or at least close!).  The outcome is a major mouth watering recipe.   When I first made this exact recipe there was silence at the dinner table as we just wanted to savor the taste.  Then a few days later they were requested again for dinner.  Then a few days later, again.   I’m at the point where I love these greens so much I would just have them for dinner, nothing else. They are so good.  Just thinking about them gets me all worked up.

I’m kicking myself because we didn’t plant any collard seeds this year.  What were we thinking? Don’t worry though, next season there will be collards.  And lots of them!

Enjoy this delicious recipe and have a great weekend! Are you doing anything fun?

The Best Collard Greens

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The Best Collard Greens
Print
Ingredients
  1. 1 tablespoon olive oil
  2. 6 slices turkey bacon (or regular)
  3. 3 cloves garlic, minced
  4. 1 pound collard greens, chopped
  5. 3 cups chicken broth
  6. 1 teaspoon salt
  7. 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  8. 1 pinch of red pepper flakes
  9. 1 tablespoon brown sugar
Instructions
  1. Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium high heat.
  2. Add bacon and cook until crisp. Remove bacon from pot, crumble and return to pot.
  3. Add garlic to pot and cook for 1-2 minutes.
  4. Add collard greens and stir until they begin to wilt.
  5. Add chicken broth, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and brown sugar. Stir.
  6. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 45 minutes.
  7. Enjoy!
Brooklyn Farm Girl http://brooklynfarmgirl.com/

Peanut Butter and Pickles Sandwich + Giveaway!

I’m obsesed with Peanut Butter and Pickles!  I just can’t get enough of this combination!

Pretty much every single day for lunch or a late afternoon snack, I’ve been toasting up one or two slices of bread,   throwing on some peanut butter, throwing on a big pile of pickles and then eating it up with a smile!  Have you ever tried peanut butter and pickles? I love the combo of the sweet and the tart.

And my favorite Peanut Butter for this sandwich? I’m obsessed with Peanut Butter & Co’s The Bee’s Knees right now.   You guys know my love for Peanut Butter & Co, but I am super in love with the sweet addition of the honey in this.  If you’ve tried this kind of Peanut Butter or you have and love it too, then make sure enter the Giveaway down below where you can win 2 jars! 

First up, toast 2 pieces of bread.  I love the Light versions of bread nowadays, 1 slice is 40 calories.  Love it.  What else do I love? This plate that Katie gave me.  Thanks girl!
Peanut Butter and Pickle Sandwich

Then I take a generous amount of peanut butter and put it on both slices.
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I also usually take a big spoonful and put it straight into my mouth because I can’t resist.Peanut Butter and Pickle Sandwich_2

Then I throw on a BIG (!) pile of pickles.  This is my favorite homemade pickle recipe but for store bought I always go for tart hamburger dill pickle chips. Peanut Butter and Pickle Sandwich_3

Seriously, I load up on the pickles. Every single bite should have a crunch to it.
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The perfect lunch!
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And now because I love you guys, here’s a chance to win 2 jars of Peanut Butter & Co’s The Bee’s Knees.  Contest runs from May 15-May 22.  Only US Residents please (but I love you all!).

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 Have you ever tried Peanut Butter and Pickles before?

 

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Pie Pudding

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Pie Pudding, a delicious healthy snack or dessert!

Chocolate and pumpkin are just the best couple aren’t they?

I mentioned on Monday that we just used up our last bag of homemade garden tomato sauce that I froze.  The same goes for pumpkin!   When making this pudding I had to reach for my last bag of frozen pumpkin puree.    I’m always a bit sad seeing the last bag gone, but it’s a great feeling knowing all the vegetables get used with love.   We just planted our pumpkin seeds last week so already I’m planning for some Summer pumpkins!  Are you guys ready for the pumpkin dance?  Prepare yourself… hopefully I’ll be dancing with happiness soon!

This Pudding is awesome for so many reasons.    For one, you are using 1 and a half cups of pumpkin so it’s full of fiber! You are using 1.5 cups of pumpkin to 1 cup chocolate chips so you’d think this is super pumpkin tasting, but it’s not.  It’s still super rich in chocolate tasting to the extent that people who don’t like pumpkin (gasp!) will still be licking their dishes when they’re done.  I recommend the good ol trick of making this recipe for pumpkin haters, having them exclaim how great it is, and then laughing and telling them how much pumpkin they ate!    Oh, I love being mean!

Lots of people think Pumpkin is only for Fall months but I don’t agree with that.    I think Pumpkin is great for the summer months for cool treats.  Besides this chilled pudding, what about pumpkin ice cream or pumpkin milk shakes?  Delicious, right?

Please please please give this Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Pie Pudding a try.    I think you will fall in love with it! 

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Pie Pudding, a delicious healthy snack or dessert!

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Pie Pudding, a delicious healthy snack or dessert!

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Pie Pudding, a delicious healthy snack or dessert!

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Pie Pudding, a delicious healthy snack or dessert!

 

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Pie Pudding
Print
Ingredients
  1. 1 1/2 cups pureed pumpkin
  2. 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  3. 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  4. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  5. 1 tablespoon sugar
  6. 1 cup chocolate chips + handful of additional chips
Instructions
  1. Melt the chocolate chips (stove or microwave).
  2. Put all ingredients into a food processor and pulse until it is smooth. Add a handful additional chocolate chips and stir with spoon to distribute them evenly.
  3. Put in bowl and chill in refrigerator until firm.
Brooklyn Farm Girl http://brooklynfarmgirl.com/
Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Pie Pudding, a delicious healthy snack or dessert!

Beat Average! #TeamGNC

This post brought to you by GNC. All opinions are 100% mine.

You don’t just want to be average when it comes to health, right?  You want to push it hard, right?  Me too! That’s why I  love GNC’s new campaign #BeatAverage, average is for the other guys.  Beat Average is a positive call for us to go beyond just the norm, above the average and to do something more.  It’s excitement to push ourselves harder, telling ourselves we can run one more block, or do 10 more sit ups (no matter how bad it burns!).   It’s a rallying cry to strive for more, strive for what we deserve.   After looking at their inspiring user photos  it inspired me to join #TeamGNC.    Don’t you just love excitement for exercise, healthy eating and living well? I just want to throw on my sneakers right now and go for a walk!

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Did you know that GNC Live Well started as  “General Nutrition Center” nearly 80 years ago in Pittsburgh? I had no idea it’s been around that long!  Growing up GNC was the go to health store for living well and performing our best and that holds true to this day.     At GNC they have everything you need to be everything you want to be.  

So go ahead and beat average!  Tell me in the comments how you push yourself and remember, every single step helps!

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The Pepper Plant Seedling That Just Won’t Die

In March we planted bell pepper seeds.  Every single seed came up.
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Because every single seed came up, we had to thin out the double seedlings.  So we pinched them off and pushed them off to the side (and cried because I always do).  Then a few days later we saw that the pepper seedling was not dead, it returned.
Pepper Plant That Wont Die

Not just 1, but 2.  These are zombie pepper plants that returned to life.
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We really don’t need this many pepper plants, but what can you do when a pepper plant tries this hard?  We can’t resist.  Ok pepper plant, you win, let’s get you planted.
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And then a few days later, it was transplanted into it’s summer home.  Now it’s living the life it always wanted as a pepper plant.
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When you love your plants so much, it’s hard enough to thin off baby seedlings, but when they try this hard, you just have to let them grow.
Welcome to the family peppers!  Enjoy your Summer!

 

Tomato Macaroni and Cheese

Delicious Tomato Macaroni and Cheese casserole recipe, ready in less than 1 hour.

If you add tomatoes to macaroni and cheese, that makes it a healthy dish, right?  I’m glad you agree with me!

For this recipe  we are mixing 2 cups of fresh chopped tomatoes with some cheesy macaroni noodles.  If you don’t have fresh, don’t worry I got you covered too.  Instead substitute it with 1 can of diced tomatoes.   I have a entire macaroni and cheese recipe section now and check out how many of them have vegetables in… I really love getting veggies cheesy!   So next time you’re craving some homemade mac and cheese add some tomatoes! Enjoy!
Delicious Tomato Macaroni and Cheese casserole recipe, ready in less than 1 hour.

Delicious Tomato Macaroni and Cheese casserole recipe, ready in less than 1 hour.

Delicious Tomato Macaroni and Cheese casserole recipe, ready in less than 1 hour.

Tomato Macaroni and Cheese
Print
Ingredients
  1. 2 cups macaroni noodles
  2. 8 oz cheese (either cheddar or mozzarella)
  3. 2 cups fresh diced tomatoes (or 1 can diced tomatoes)
  4. 1 teaspoon sugar
  5. 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  6. 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  7. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  8. 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  9. 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  10. 1/2 cup bread crumbs
Instructions
  1. In a large pot boil macaroni noodles per directions on box. Drain and put half in a greased casserole dish.
  2. Take half of cheese and add on top of macaroni.
  3. Put remaining half of macaroni noodles on top, then top again with remaining cheese.
  4. Stir together diced tomatoes, sugar, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, salt, thyme and pepper in bowl. Pour over macaroni mixture.
  5. Spread bread crumbs on top of dish.
  6. Bake, uncovered at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.
Brooklyn Farm Girl http://brooklynfarmgirl.com/
Delicious Tomato Macaroni and Cheese casserole recipe, ready in less than 1 hour.

A Look Into Frances Palmer’s Garden

Peeking is a ongoing series where I peek into other’s gardens and snoop around.   If you’re in the NYC area and have a garden you’d like to share, please email me.  I’d love to see what you are doing and share your garden story!   For more peeking posts click here

Welcome to Frances Palmer’s vegetable garden!

Tell me in the comments if any new ideas spring to mind for your own garden by looking at these.  

Enjoy this visual post, full of garden beauty and inspiration. 

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Check out the full story in the May issue of Martha Stewart Living or click right here for the online story.
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Photos by Peden + Munk. Courtesy of Martha Stewart Living. Copyright © 2014.  

How to Survive Garden Allergies!

 collectivebias 

I never suffered from allergies until 2 years ago.  Then suddenly they hit.  There are days when I go up to the garden and that same night I’m sniffly and super clogged up.  Because I can’t stay away from my baby, the garden, I needed to find some tips to keep the allergy symptoms away.

My products of choice to always have nearby are a box of tissues (preferably really soft ones with aloe!), some cough drops for sore and dry throats and Nasacort which is a allergy spray that I feel works better and quicker instead of pills.  But my biggest allergy solution is tea!  Did you know that tea is great for allergies? It’s true.  Tea, it just keeps on giving, doesn’t it?    Certain herbs provide natural antihistamaine benefits that can help allergy relief.  The best teas to drink when you have sinus pain and itchy eyes are rooibos, ginger, lemon balm and peppermint.  You totally don’t have to wait for the allergy syptoms to hit either. If you start to drink this tea daily it will help prevent allergy pain.
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I’m also obsessed with my new best friend, Poncho.  Poncho is a app that sends you daily text or emails (you choose!) about the daily pollen forecast.  It also tells you the temperature and daily forecast.  What I especially love about this service is that it’s customized to your schedule.   Because I don’t want it to send me texts while I’m sleeping or too early, it informs me almost right on the dot of the time I told it to which is when I leave the house.  This tells me if I need to pack a umbrella or not! You also tell it when you leave for work, so if a upcoming storm is going to hit, it’s going to alert you so you don’t get 2 blocks from work and it starts pouring!  It’s like the best friend a girl can have to keep her hair dry from rain!  Poncho has been getting some great press so check out the Forbes and Tech Crunch articles. 

Also because I love great UI design, I have to say how beautiful their website is.  Here’s one of the pages when setting up my customized options.  Isn’t it pretty?
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Everyday it sends me a text that gives a visual link as well.  Here you can see what the temperature will be and the pollen count. It’s pretty high right now so better get my tissues ready!
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Here’s the actual text I get.  Some days when pollen is high it even sends me a coupon.  Also I want to give a shout out to this because Nasacort was 23.99.  With my Duane Reade rewards card it was on sale for 17.99.  Then with this coupon it was 14.99.  What a deal, right?  Even the checkout cashier was like “You go girl!”.
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So stop by your local Duane Reade and stock up all your allergy tools!  
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Happy garden season!
Duane Reade allergies

 

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