1
Tomato Macaroni and Cheese
2
A Look Into Frances Palmer’s Garden
3
How to Survive Garden Allergies!
4
Mexican Black Bean and Corn Salsa
5
Walk The Aisles To Keep The Wrinkles Away
6
Sweet Tuxedo Fudge (That you can freeze!)
7
You Don’t Need Natural Light or a Yard to Grow
8
Oriental Spicy Bok Choy Noodles
9
NYC Garden Party Pictures and Fun!
10
Pizza Time! Fratelli Brick Oven Pizza Review
11
Cake Batter Granola Bars
12
How To Get Your Sick Pets Healthy and Back to Wrestling!
13
Let’s plant our Spring Seedlings!
14
Fudgy Red Bean Brownies That Are SO GOOD!
15
Top Tips For Keeping Pesky Squirrels Away!
16
How to Grow Radishes and Carrots
17
How to Pill a Cat (Without Bleeding)
18
Broccoli Grilled Cheese Sandwich
19
Baked Kale Meatballs and Is it Spring? Are you sure?
20
Glazed Carrot Cake Donuts

Tomato Macaroni and Cheese

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

Happy Monday everyone!  Did you have a good weekend?  The last 2 days it’s been in the 80′s so summer is definitely approaching.   Slathered in SPF 50, a floppy hat and sunglasses we made sure we got some work done this weekend in the garden.  There was some cleanup to be done, some planting and some moving around very heavy containers (lift with your legs!).    Expect a big garden update tomorrow, can’t wait to show you what’s growing! 

All of our tomato seedlings are planted!   This year we’ll have 9 plants consisting of  Cherry, Roma Sauce and Brandywine varieties.  I am pretty excited for tomato season so in a few months we’ll stocking up on homemade tomato sauce!  The truth is that I just used up our last tomato sauce that I stored in the freezer last week so I actually had to buy my first jar of tomato sauce a few days ago (since last July!). It always kills me to buy a jar of sauce!  With enough love hopefully we’ll be swimming in tomatoes!  I always get so excited to cheer on these babies to grow into monsters!  

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!
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Tomato Macaroni and Cheese

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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/

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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Instagram: @DuaneReadeNYC

#DRAllergy #CollectiveBias

Mexican Black Bean and Corn Salsa

How many times have you been asked your favorite food? How many times do you answer “I don’t know!”.  For me it’s quite often.  I can never decide… but I think I finally have a winner… it’s Mexican! Is it your favorite too?

We eat Mexican food very often in this house. From slow cooker tacos, to salsa, to cornbread, I love it all. In fact check out my Mexican recipe selection here for lots of recipes!  I think it was when I was out of town recently and we ate burritos 3 times in 4 days that I came to the conclusion that tacos made me feel safe and I love them dearly.  Tacos, do you hear me? I love you guys.

I see so many awesome taco recipes every single day from amazing bloggers but recently I came across a book that I fell in love with it. It’s “The Taco Revolution” and features over 100 recipes to “Master America’s New Favorite Food”.    It’s not often that Matthew and I both have to fight over a cookbook but when he saw this on my desk his eyes nearly popped out of his head. “Tacos!” he exclaimed.  “Tacos!” I exclaimed. Then we made tacos.
(I bookmarked lots of recipes already.)
Black Bean and Corn Salsa

This cookbook has traditional recipes and the not so traditional.  We’re talking Philly Cheeseteak Tacos, Barbecue Chicken Tacos, Chili Lime Tacos, Steamed Broccoli Tacos… and are you ready? Mac and Cheese Tacos. Oh my god, I know.  Are you shaking already?  I’m so excited. Besides the tacos it also has recipes for dips, salsas and tortilla shells.  Basically it’s everything you need for a Mexican Fiesta (besides me because you need to invite me to the party!).  This cookbook was written by Brandon Schultz who’s biography tells me that he lives in Brooklyn with a cat, so Brandon if you are reading this… I think we should be friends too.  We only need 3 things in common to be bffs: tacos, Brooklyn and cats. 

So during our usual watching of Game of Thrones every Sunday night, aka the greatest show ever, we decided to have taco salads.  Because I desperately wanted to include this book in the recipe I decided to make Brandon’s Black Bean and Corn Salsa which was a major hit! You could put this on tacos, you could use this to dip your chips in or you could just be like me and eat it with a spoon. No judging here. Whatever you do.. make this and enjoy!

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Then make sure to load this salsa on some tacos of your choice!

Black Bean and Corn Salsa
Print
Ingredients
  1. 1 can of corn (drained)
  2. 1 can of black beans (drained)
  3. 1 tablespoon olive oil
  4. Juice of 1/2 lime (or 1 tablespoon lime juice)
  5. 1 tablespoon paprika
  6. 2 teaspoons cumin
  7. 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  8. Cilantro to garnish (optional)
Instructions
  1. Mix all ingredients in a medium mixing bowl.
  2. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  3. Serve and enjoy!
Notes
  1. Make sure to refrigerate leftovers.
Adapted from The Taco Revolution: Over 100 Traditional and Innovative Recipes to Master America's New Favorite Food by Brandon Schultz
Adapted from The Taco Revolution: Over 100 Traditional and Innovative Recipes to Master America's New Favorite Food by Brandon Schultz
Brooklyn Farm Girl http://brooklynfarmgirl.com/

Walk The Aisles To Keep The Wrinkles Away

 collectivebias

When RoC Brand invited me to learn more about how to prevent wrinkles I was pretty excited!   I wanted to share all these great tips with you guys because as I found out, it’s never too early to start.

I’m 30 years old and I have a battle with my skin.   I’ve battled with acne and dry skin for pretty much my entire life.  During these many years I have moisturized the heck out of skin, lathering it twice a daily, which has resulted in at least one positive thing: lack of wrinkles.  I know lots of people deal with dark circles, puffiness, age lines, wrinkles and crow’s feet and I know the time will come for me as well, so that’s why I was interested in learning about more ways in how to prevent this.

Like lots of other beauty products in my life, it’s a good idea to use them before you need them.   Have you ever dried to get rid of a scar?  It’s hard. Have you ever tried to remove eye wrinkles? Very hard.  But if you start to use products before they form then you’re not going to have to deal with getting rid of them.

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I met up with some other ladies at Duane Reade on Wall Street to discuss RoC product benefits and anti-aging/skin care with top NYC dermatologist Debra Jaliman and health experts. There we got to ask all our questions we always wanted to know:
When do I have to start to worry about wrinkles?
What is retinol?
Do I have to wear moisturizer?
Is there a thing as too much sunscreen? (Answer, NO!)
How much lotion should I really put on my face?
Is this product going to break me out?

One of the tips that really stuck with me that night is this “More is not better, use small amounts”.  I know you’ve read a bottle before and it says to put a pea amount so you do that and then you put 6x more dots because more means it will work better, right?  Wrong!   A little goes a long way!  So don’t go crazy with application, keep it light.

I also learned that Retinol is the most popular ingredient recommended by dermatologists.  Retinol is a form of Vitamin A which reduces pore size and reduces fine lines.

Always wash with a very gentle mild cleanser.  Most times you don’t need anything fancy, most cleaners found at your local drugstore will do the job.

SPF 30 is great to use.  If you are using a retinol always use a sunscreen, but you should always use a sunscreen anyways.. even when it’s rainy out!  Do you use a moisturizer that has SPF in it? Do you use SPF them on top of that? Then does your makeup have SPF in it too? It’s totally ok, there’s no such thing as too much sunscreen. 

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RoC gave us great giveaway bags that included everything from sunglasses (protect those eyes) to eye masks to Debra Jaliman’s book “Skin Rules” which I read that night in bed from front to back.    They also gave us a ton of skincare products as everyone has different skin tones, sensitivity and needs different things.   The two items that I have been using for a week straight now are the Deep Wrinkle Serum and the Anti-Aging for Retinol-Sensitive Skin.  I have extremely sensitive skin that can be so easily irritated so I love that they have products for my quick to become red skin.  When I dotted this eye cream around my eyes the first few nights I definitely felt the retinol tingling but per package that’s to be expected.  The deep wrinkle serum stimulates your skin’s renewal process and is clinically proven to visibly reduce both fine lines and deep wrinkles.  I also read a ton of reviews that said that the serum really helped with acne so I decided to give this a shot as well.   With anything I have to be patient and give it time to work. The serum takes 12 weeks to notice a difference so I am going to continue to put it on at bed time and then lather my favorite moisturizer on top. 

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To leave with, I just had to snap these pictures too.  The event was lots of fun but it was also delicious  There were tons of great catered sandwiches, macaroons and vegetables to snack away on.
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The macaroons were covered in gold and were a highlight item that everyone was throwing on Instagram. 
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Don’t ask me how many I ate.. hehehe.  Don’t! ;)
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#Eyes4NYC #ad #CollectiveBias

 Tell me, what are you doing for your skin? What is your routine?  Do you have to deal with eye wrinkles?  If so, what do you use? If not,  are you starting to prevent them?

Sweet Tuxedo Fudge (That you can freeze!)

Fudge is a total weakness to mine.  Being around a tray of fudge is just asking for guilt and trouble, so when I make a batch I love to throw it in the freezer so it isn’t staring at me in the face for the next few days.  Fudge freezes great which means when you need that afternoon pick me up or need a quick dessert, just reach into the freezer and grab a piece of fudge.  It’s such a sweet treat.

This recipe is for Tuxedo Fudge which is half white and half black, just like a tuxedo. Well I guess a tuxedo is more black than white which is how my fudge turned out too.  There’s no such thing as too much chocolate, right? This old fashioned fudge recipe is made by combining coconut and chocolate to create one beautiful layered candy.

Tuxedo Fudge

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This recipe comes from 300 Best Homemade Candy Recipes Cookbook by Jane Sharrock.  The cookbook is pure dangerous as it has recipes from peanut brittle, caramels, truffles, nut balls, taffy and beautiful lollipops! It’s a sweet dream!
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Sweet Tuxedo Fudge (That you can freeze!)
Print
Coconut Layer
  1. 2 cups granulated sugar
  2. Pinch salt
  3. 1⁄2 cup butter or margarine
  4. 1⁄4 cup light (white) corn syrup
  5. 1⁄2 cup milk
  6. 1 tsp vanilla extract
  7. 1⁄2 cup sweetened flaked coconut
Chocolate Layer
  1. 2 cups granulated sugar
  2. 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  3. Pinch salt Pinch
  4. 1⁄2 cup butter or margarine
  5. 1⁄4 cup light (white) corn syrup
  6. 1⁄2 cup milk
  7. 1 tsp vanilla extract
  8. 1⁄2 cup pecans, in large pieces (optional)
Instructions
  1. 1. To make the coconut layer: In heavy saucepan over low to medium-low heat, bring the sugar, salt, butter, corn syrup and milk to a boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves and the mixture begins to boil. Cover and cook 2 to 3 minutes to dissolve the sugar crystals on the sides of the pan. Remove the lid. Cook, stirring only as needed to prevent scorching, to the soft ball stage (234°F to 240°F/112°C to 116°C, with 236°F/113°C recommended).
  2. 2. Remove from the heat. Cool slightly, about 10 minutes. Add the vanilla. Beat by hand until the candy begins to thicken and lose its gloss. Stir in the coconut. Spread the candy into the prepared pan. Cool at room temperature while making the chocolate layer.
  3. 3. To make the chocolate layer: In a clean saucepan, combine the sugar and cocoa until well blended. Add the salt, butter, corn syrup and milk. Bring to a boil over low to medium-low heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves and the mixture begins to boil. Cover and cook 2 to 3 minutes to dissolve the sugar crystals on the sides of the pan. Remove the lid. Cook, stirring only as needed to prevent scorching, to the soft ball stage (234°F to 240°F/112°C to 116°C, with 236°F/113°C recommended).
  4. 4. Remove from the heat. Cool slightly, about 10 minutes. Add the vanilla. Beat by hand until the candy begins to thicken and lose its gloss. Stir in the pecans, if desired. Spread the chocolate layer over the coconut layer in the pan. Cool and cut into squares. Store in an airtight container.
  5. To freeze cut up into squares and store in freezer bag. Take them out of the freezer as you need one.
Brooklyn Farm Girl http://brooklynfarmgirl.com/
Tell me, is fudge dangerous to you too?  

You Don’t Need Natural Light or a Yard to Grow

“I don’t have a yard.”
“I don’t have room to grow.”
“I don’t have natural light in my home.”
“I don’t know when to water.”
“I kill plants!”

I hear these things all the time, including in the comments here on Brooklyn Farm Girl, but I heard them especially often at NYC’s Garden Party which was packed with city dwellers wanting to green their lives.  After they said these things I usually asked:
“Do you have a roof?”.  
“Do you have a fire escape?”
“Do you have a balcony?”
“Do you have any windows?”

It’s rare that all the answers are no, but if they are then I always introduce them to hydroponic growing or just flat out telling them they can grow with artificial lighting.  We have a garden on the roof but we also have a dark corner in our loft that has no natural light.  And in that corner we grow lettuce, cherry tomatoes, jalapeno peppers, basil, parsley and more!  So what I’m saying is there are no excuses for not being able to grow.   You just need to try!

I want to introduce you guys to Aero Garden, because even though this is going to sound like a sales pitch, it isn’t, I really do think it’s amazing.  I think it’s great for gardeners of all levels, but especially helpful for beginning gardeners because it’s going to tell you EXACTLY what to do.  It tells you when to water.  It tells you when to add nutrients.  It tells you when to replace your lights.  It tells you how long your plants have been growing for.  It tells you everything. It will literally say on the screen “THIS NEEDS WATER”.  You will add water into a hole and then the “THIS NEEDS WATER” screen will disappear.  It’s that helpful. It’s easy!

I have worked with Aero Garden alongside Miracle-Gro in the past to make some helpful videos to show you how easy it is to set up the garden and then actually grow.  If you guys know me then you know I’m pretty weak so if I can snap all these parts and bulbs into place in a few minutes then trust me, you can do it too.   Even though I have worked with them, I would never advertise to you guys a product that sucks.  After using the Aero Garden for close to a year (lots of testing!) I just had to give it a shout out here so there can be no more excuses for not having light, space or habits of killing plants.  This completely takes care of all these things for you.

The Aero Garden is about $100. I’ve seen them sold at Home Depot if you want to check it out.  I know $100 is not cheap so I consider this a con.  But because the only thing you will have to replace is the bulbs (ours lasted 8 months) it’s going to be reused for years.    You will also need to buy the  Aero Garden seed starter kits that already have the seeds in place so you literally just snap these in (easy).  For more advanced gardeners you can grow everything from seed in the Aero Garden so I just start them outside the machine then replace and snap them into place (MUCH cheaper).  The seed kits they sell are pizza herbs, traditional medicinal herbs, lettuce, strawberry, tomatoes, peppers, every herb you can think of and flowers.  I haven’t tried the strawberries yet but since it’s a new product I think I’m going to give it a shot next in ours.   They also sell a salsa kit which includes cherry tomatoes and jalapenos but I don’t honestly think you’re going to grow enough tomatoes to make a big bowl of salsa.  I mostly used these cherry tomatoes for salads and tacos as I was able to just grab a few and go.  

The coolest part of growing indoors while not worrying about the light is that you can grow 12 months a year. The seasons don’t matter.  During the Winter while the garden was in sleep time we were still able to grab fresh lettuce to eat taco salads with.  

I think the basil grows fantastic in the Aero Garden, possibly even just as good as in a real garden.  We had multiple basil plants that just grew into true plant monsters.  They actually grew so tall that I couldn’t extend the Aero Garden arm to go any higher (it adjusts with plant height). It seems like everytime I would prune the basil plants I’d come back a few days later and they would need more pruning, they just grow and grow and grow.    I think the basil plants really get the best out of your buck as well just because the pure amount of basil you’re going to get.  We’re talking cups of basil at one time. I easily made giant batches of pesto with the basil from these while the plants were still stacked with more basil to pick.  In fact I think I can even say at times I had too much basil which had me cutting some off to dry it for dried basil just so the plants come keep growing.  You’re going to basil crazy people!

Here’s one afternoon of basil I picked!
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And more basil..
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Here’s the basil plants before I cut them down.  The funny thing is they grew these tall even with only having 2 lights on instead of the usual 3 for multiple weeks (I was cheap and didn’t want to buy bulbs)! I’m about to replant some new basil and replace the bulbs so we’ll be set for the next batch.
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And lettuce grows excellent in it. It’s pretty great to be able to just walk a few feet in your home, grab some lettuce and then go get your grub on.
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And this is just herb city.  They grow really well so it can become a great smelling jungle pretty quick.

Lastly, a bunch of cherry tomatoes growing! 

And like I mentioned earlier, I made some videos with Aero Garden last summer so I wanted to post them here as well.  If a goof like me can put these gardens together then you definitely can too.

Then there’s one more video of how to make some delicious salsa. Watch the video until the end where you can see me take a bite, realize it’s extremely hot (I got a jalepeno seed!) then then try to act professional while my mouth is on fire. It worked.. kinda! ;)

 Have you guys seen the Aero Garden yet in stores?  Does anyone have one?    Tell me in the comments!

Oriental Spicy Bok Choy Noodles

These Oriental Spicy Noodles include Bok Choy, Kale and Mushrooms making them a vegetable lover’s dream!

Lately I have really been in the mood for a big bowl of Chinese noodles full of vegetables so I cooked this up one night and now it’s a official staple for dinner. I love that I can use both fresh bok choy and kale from the garden making this a happy harvest meal too.   The red pepper flakes and ginger add a little spice that goes a long way for flavor.  These noodles are not soupy as the broth will boil off and the rice noodles will soak them up.    Just thinking about this dish is making my mouth water!

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Look at all these beautiful sauteed vegetables!
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And here’s the finished dish:

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Oriental Spicy Bok Choy Noodles
Print
Ingredients
  1. 2 tablespoons olive oil
  2. 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  3. 1 teaspoon ginger
  4. 1 large head bok choy - chopped
  5. 1/2 cup kale - chopped
  6. 8 oz sliced mushrooms
  7. 4 cups chicken broth
  8. 12 oz rice noodles
  9. salt + pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. In a pot heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add red pepper flakes, ginger, bok choy, kale and mushrooms. Stir to combine them while cooking for 2-3 minutes until the greens wilt.
  2. In a large pot bring chicken broth to a boil. Once boiling add rice noodles, cooking as instructed on noodle package. When the noodles have 4 minutes left, add vegetables and stir.
  3. Season with salt + pepper if needed.
  4. Enjoy!
Brooklyn Farm Girl http://brooklynfarmgirl.com/
To leave you with, here’s a little look at me cooking and taking pictures in my tiny kitchen.  I always have a cup of tea, a pencil to scribble ingredients and my light near my side!
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Enjoy this noodle dish!

 

NYC Garden Party Pictures and Fun!

This weekend was Home Depot’s NYC Garden party and I was there to assist in helping all things garden related!
So grab a pot, a herb and let’s get our nails dirty… it’s time to plant!
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The event was hosted by Monica Mangin and the chef for the afternoon was Jason Roberts.  And your garden helper was me!
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First step when you walked in.. grab a pot and decorate it with a bunch of markers! It was neat to see how some people really got colorful with their pots!
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Then with your empty pot you came and met me at the herb planting station.  There you got the option of planting cilantro, basil or parsley.   Here’s a picture before the event began with all the herbs lined up..
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But that’s not it… we had all these herbs to plant too! 
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I should have taken some pictures “after” because this area really got the getting your hands dirty treatment!  Every single herb was planted.. I never planted so many at one time in my life! I was pretty exhausted when it was over!
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I really loved talking with kids about gardening and helping them get their plants in their pots. Some were shy but once I told them they could get their hands dirty they dug right in.
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There were lots of questions about water, sunlight and overall care.  I really wanted to stress that anyone can grow and don’t give up even if it fails the first time. Trust me, we’ve all had plants that have died. Just keep trying!
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Oh and this boy named Matthew showed up.  He made a pot that has our cats names on them! Meow.
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There was also a salsa garden bed set up that had everything planted from tomatoes, onions, cilantro, peppers and more.  Everything you need to make a big batch of salsa (once it’s fully grown!)
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There was also a gnome and a owl there.  Hey guys.
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Christy was my partner in crime and helped me all day, including brushing our bags off 20x because we kept covering them with dirt.  The planting station gets crazy!
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There was also fresh lemonade…
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And beautiful grilled carrots were eaten! I was a bit bummed I didn’t get to try any.. but I’m going to cook some up with our garden carrots!
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So that was the event! I have to say it was lots of fun just to get to meet so many people and hear their enthusiasm for urban city growing.  I always say this but you can really grow no matter where you live.. there’s window boxes, fire escapes, roofs, yards and even hydroponic systems with artificial light.  You just have to give it a shot!  

Now get growing!

If you live in Chicago or Seattle, please check out the garden party. I promise that you’ll have a blast!
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Pizza Time! Fratelli Brick Oven Pizza Review

The answer to “Hey, want to grab some pizza?” is always yes!  So when Fratelli Brick Over Pizza and Wine Bar invited me for dinner the answer was one giant yes!  Take my hand and let’s jump on the subway, we’re about to take a trip uptown! That’s right, I’m going past 23rd Street to the Upper East Side… but it’s worth it for this pizza.

First up, let’s talk about this awesome homemade sundried tomato dip and bread that they brought out after we placed our orders. This sauce is so good they actually sell it in jars at the restaurant.  Get this.. the sauce is made with anchovies, olives, sun-dried tomatoes and olive oil.  Did you hear me? Anchovies! And here I thought they were gross my entire life but not in this sauce!  
Fratelli Brick Oven Pizza

I love surprising Matthew with things like “this sauce has anchovies in it!” because I know how much anchovies scare him too.  The bread and sauce was a big hit.  I’m guilty of eating too much bread before the main course, anyone else?
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Next up was the Antipasto Contadino which is an assortment of cheeses, sopressata, dry sausage and tomato.  This was a appetizer but it was HUGE.   We both nibbled on all the delicious meats and cheeses while throwing on the yummy assortment of peppers and beans that were soaked in a spicy marinade in the middle. 
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While digging into the vegetables in the middle we found a piece of cauliflower that both made us cheer with excitement.  You guys know how much we love our cauliflower so this was a happy surprise at the bottom. 
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Now baby, it’s pizza time!

They serve 12″ and 16″ pizzas that can be made whole wheat or gluten if you’d like. They have the traditional Margherita but then they also have special pizzas like:
Pizza Girasole homemade mozzarella cheese, prociutto and sun-dried tomatoes.
Pizza Importante roasted shrimp, fresh arugula and mozzarella.
Pizza Quattro Formaggi gorganzola, fontina, mozzarella and reggiano.
Pizza Spring pineapple, roasted red peppers and grilled chicken in a light tomato sauce.

I got the Mamma Fratelli’s Classic which was diced tomatoes, ricotta, fresh mozzarella and garlic. Ricotta and mozzarella? Yes please! And on top of that I added some of my favorite prosciutto and mushrooms.
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Doesn’t it look delicious? And it was! I always love pizza covered in ricotta cheese on top so this was a big winner to my taste buds.
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Matthew got the Margherita Pizza which is fresh homemade mozzarella, basil, grated cheese and tomato sauce.  He topped it with mushrooms, pepperoni and sausage.  Matthew is a giant pizza lover (kinda crazy about it) so to hear him say “This is real good” I knew that this pizza passed the test.  To be honest we don’t leave Brooklyn often for pizza, but this pizza here holds up with the best of them so A+!
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And now dessert..

I read great things about the White Chocolate Polenta Cake so I went with that.  It tasted like warm corn bread covered in sweetness.  It was simply magical. 
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Matthew got the cannoli which I think was the star of the dessert menu. Even though my Polenta Cake was delicious this cannoli was on the scale of “holy heck this is delicious”.  Matthew only gave me one bite because he is mean and wouldn’t share but the one bite I took was simply amazing. Next time I go I’ll definitely treat myself to the cannoli (and not share with Matthew!).
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A funny moment that happened during dinner was when a ambulance parked outside the restaurant, lights on, for about 15 minutes.  It was like watching a light show on Matthew’s face.   
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Verdict? Delicious! Their pizza can battle with the best of them, their serving sizes are generous and they had the kindest wait staff that was always refilling our glasses and making sure we were good.  It was a great dinner and we’ll definitely be back!  If you’re in NYC I’d recommend this for your next restaurant to try!

Fratelli Brick Oven Pizza is located at 1317 1st Avenue (between 71st St & 70th St) on the Upper East Side in NYC.

Cake Batter Granola Bars

One of my absolute favorite afternoon snacks is a granola bar to add some fuel, but who says your granola bars can’t be sweet too?

But first… hi from Toronto!  I’ve just eaten Poutine for the first time in my life tonight and I basically can’t move! Let’s just say I overdid it and should have stopped half way. ;)  I can’t wait to show you all the yummy food I’ve been enjoying here.  Now on to Granola bars…!

Basing this on my Chocolate Chip Granola Bars and Peanut Butter Pretzel Chocolate Chip Granola Bars recipes I wanted to create a granola bar that was filling with oats but tasted more like a pastry.  To be exact I wanted it to taste like cake batter because shouldn’t everything?  Alongside the other ingredients I added in some dry cake mix which was a great partner to pair with the oats when the wet ingredients are added in to make everything stick together.

Not only do these definitely taste like cake batter, but they smell just like cake too.   Isn’t it just wonderful?  You can totally be fun with the sprinkle colors too.  Maybe add red and green for Christmas, or bright yellow for Summer time picnic treats! 

Next time you’re craving granola bars or cake batter, give these a shot and let me know what you think!

Cake Batter Granola Bars

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Cake Batter Granola Bars
Print
Ingredients
  1. 2 cups quick cooking oats
  2. 1 cup crispy rice cereal
  3. 2/3 cup cake mix dry
  4. 1/4 cup salted butter
  5. 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  6. 1/4 cup honey
  7. 1 teaspoon vanilla
  8. 4 tablespoons sprinkles
  9. 3 tablespoons white chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Spray a 8x8 pan lightly with cooking spray.
  2. Mix your oats, cereal, cake mix and 2 tablespoons sprinkle together in a large bowl.
  3. In a small saucepan melt butter, brown sugar and honey on medium high heat until melted. Once it begins to bubble change heat to low and stir for 2 minutes.
  4. Remove saucepan from burner and stir in your vanilla.
  5. Pour your hot mixture over your oats mixture. Stir well. You want to make sure every single piece of oats and cereal is coated.
  6. Pour your mixture into your greased pan and push down with spatula to flatten it.
  7. Sprinkle chocolate chips and 2 tablespoons sprinkle over top evenly. Use your spatula to press them down so they are embedded in the bars.
  8. Cover with plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator to set for 1 hour.
  9. Take out and cut into bar sizes.
  10. Store in airtight container in refrigerator to keep them fresh.
Brooklyn Farm Girl http://brooklynfarmgirl.com/

How To Get Your Sick Pets Healthy and Back to Wrestling!

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I hope everyone found some help in my 4 Ways to Pill a Cat Post I made last week. If you haven’t checked it out, go ahead.  I hope one of the methods work great for you!
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I know how difficult it is dealing with a sick pet, so below I wanted to share some tips for taking care of  a pet who has a strict medicine schedule.    If you have multiple pets on medicines I know how hard it can be to keep track of who took what and when.  So here’s some things I do to make sure all our furry critters get their pills.

Each of our cats right now take 1 Fluconazole pill a day.  Because they are different sizes in weight some of them have different MG in terms of size.  That means that I have to be extra careful when grabbing their pill bottle to make sure that take the right pill.  That means that I have to make sure I physically give them the right pill and that also means I have to be sure that if I’m giving it to them in soft food, that they eat it… and someone doesn’t come up next to them and steal it.  Have you ever had to feed 4 cats at the same time?  Imagine being the most popular girl in the world, it’s a great feeling.
Easter Dinner.  #cats #cat #easter #dinner #catlady #family #kitty #persiancat #mainecoon #siamese #calico

To keep track of the pill bottle situation, we always mark the top of the bottles with the letter of their first name.   So when I go into the medicine cabinet I don’t have to spend a minute reading everyone’s bottle to find who’s who is who, this makes it quick and easy.   Making names on the bottles bigger is great for pet sitters as well. Right now I’m out of town so we have a pet sitter stopping by daily to give them their pills.   I’m always nervous when someone else has to give our cats pills so this makes me at ease more.  Since we need to make sure everyone takes their pill we always make a chart on the chalkboard too.  Every single time someone gets their pill we mark it down.

Since the cats get their pills at different times of the day as they have different schedules this makes it easy to remember that yes, Goblin got his at 10AM, but Brother did not get his and it’s now 8PM.  Time to track Brother down and give him that pill.
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One easy thing that I found out is that lots of my cats prescriptions can actually be filled at my local Walgreens, which is the same pharmacy I use.  Doctors and veterinarians commonly prescribe the same medications for people and animals so Walgreens pharmacists can actually fill human-analogous pet prescriptions.  How much easier does it get to be able to pick up your own prescription and your pets at the same time?  Our vet is not that close so that makes a immediate refill not the easiest thing to get, but Walgreens is 3 blocks a way which means I just have to throw my shoes on, grab my wallet and keys and go.  Also I noticed another bonus at refilling your pets prescriptions at Walgreens pharmacy and that it’s sometimes cheaper than your veterinarian office.   This is because the markups are higher and there’s usually a dispensing fee.  Along with using your Balance Rewards card this is a great way to save because we all know a trip to the vet is not a cheap event.
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Because I manage all my own personal prescriptions and refills online I also love that Walgreens Online Prescription Management allows me to add my pets right on the online portal. That means that I’m 2 clicks away from adding each pet to  my account.  
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Also if you don’t want to use the online portal Walgreens has a mobile app where you can track all prescriptions there too.  Walgreens is great with monthly reminders to refill so this makes sure I always have their medicine on hand when they need it, with plenty of time to spare in case the pharmacy is out of stock and has to order it.   The way I do this is by getting email reminders that I can hit reply and send directly to the pharmacy.

So go on and get your pets healthy! With healthy cats that means they can get back to enjoying their nap and play time.. or in our house that means plenty of wrestling time!

 Boys… they all love to wrestle!  
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 #WalgreensRx #CollectiveBias 

Let’s plant our Spring Seedlings!

Well we had a storm scare but the garden is officially up and running! Our hearty Spring vegetables have been planted marking this the official start of the gardening season!  

On April 1 we planted all of our broccoli, cauliflower, pak choi, onion, kale and lettuce seedlings which just sprinkled the empty garden with green! I love this time of the year where you watch the empty garden transition into a green wonderland, cheering on every single seedling to grow big and strong!    When we transition the seedlings into Spring we always spend a few days to harden them off, and then we spend one long afternoon planting everyone in their new home. 

With your instructions for how to build a container and how to plant a raised bed garden box all read already (I hope!), alongside your seeds you’ve been growing for months (you have been, right?) then we’re ready to push the garden into Spring and wait for baskets full of harvest!

First let’s say hello to our baby garden beauties (aka the seedlings).

First, we have our 12 broccoli seedlings! 
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Oh they’re just adorable when they’re so little.
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Then we have our 12 cauliflower seedlings, equally as cute (of course).  Note that they are in sets of 4 as we will grow 4 plants in each container.
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Then we have 6 kale plants which I always get so excited to watch grow.   We’ll be planting these in the long container but I’m spoiling the pictures below by telling you this already.
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Well, we were only going to grow 4 lettuce plants but we ended up with 8 because we couldn’t kill of any of the seedlings.  We are horrible at killing off seedlings, it hurts our feelings so bad.
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There’s a ton of onions, so many I forget.
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And there’s 6 pak choi plants which are just gorgeous with their purple and green colors!
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Now let’s take a look at each as we plant…

Hi broccoli.  Are you as amazed as I am to know a little seed turns into this which turns into a full plant producing a giant head of broccoli?  I’m like a broken record about this but it’s just really special to think about this and watch them grow.
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Broccoli baby, you are growing to grow so big!
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Cauliflower you guys are going to grow big too!  When planting, we cut 4 X’s in the plastic and then plant in them.
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Broccoli and cauliflower is all planted!
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In the first few weeks when we’re unsure of the nights might get too cold we’ll keep them under the greenhouse.  We always put filled water bottles inside the greenhouse.  The water bottles will warm up with the sun during the day, keeping the warmth to last through the night heating up the seedlings.
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The kale was planted next to it’s 6 older brother kale plants.  We found that the kale grows much better in this long wooden container than in a plastic container so we’re going back to that this year.  This box is located in front of a big wall so it helps keeping them in shadow during the Summer, keeping the roots cooler.
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The onions are always crazy looking. Each long green piece is a onion, so we have to separate them all to grow individually.   To do this you just carefully shake them out, while gently (!) pulling it away.  After a while you’ll get quick with this, it’s a technique you’ll learn to love! 
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I’m holding what’s going to be about 6 onions just between my fingers.  Awesome, right?
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Onions are planted!  There’s 2 batch of them this year, but here’s one of them.  In the back of this box 2 rows of sugar snap peas are growing.
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Lettuce is planted! Off to the left some carrots will grow and to the back more sugar snap peas! This is going to be a happy box!
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Now I just have to figure out what I’m going to do with 8 lettuce plants…!
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High 5 garden boy, now our garden is ready to grow! (We don’t plan on matching.. I swear!)
Long day of rooftop farming. Also we don't plan on matching, it just happens. #vegetables #healthyeating #garden #gardening #urbanfarming #urbangarden #containergarden #harvest #brooklyn #couple #gardenchat #farmer #rooftopgarden

Have you planted your seedlings yet?

 

Fudgy Red Bean Brownies That Are SO GOOD!

A few days ago I was craving brownies (when aren’t I)?    Because I always love some adding some vegetables to sweets, I went into the cabinet to grab a can of black beans to make my favorite black bean brownies but sadness hit, I was all out of black beans.  So then I sat on the floor, pantry door open, and begun to think.. could I use another bean?  So I grabbed a can of dark red kidney beans and these Fudgy Red Bean Brownies were started!

These brownies are incredibly fudgy, incredibly rich, incredibly chocolaty and made out of magic.  Did I sell you on them yet? The kidney beans worked as a perfect substitution for the black beans.   This recipe is now one of my favorite brownie recipes that I can’t keep my paws off of!  Because I love to be sinful I added a thick layer of brownie frosting to the top of these that set perfectly.  When you take a bite you’re just going to fall into chocolate heaven.  So go ahead make these.. I’ll meet you there!

Tomorrow morning, I’ll be heading to Toronto to talk at the FITC Conference alongside Matthew for Reed+Rader.  I’ve never been to Toronto before so if you have any suggestions on what to see or eat, please leave them in the comments!  I’ll have a couple posts next week dedicated to my trip so I hope I can find some delicious brownies to scarf down in between the talks!  I hope you all have a lovely weekend!

Fudgy Kidney Bean Chocolate Brownies

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I’d also like to give a special shout out to Goblin who is about 1 inch outside the frame in every single shot above.  Hes’ a real great help in the kitchen and especially good at helping me take pictures! :) 

Fudgy Red Bean Brownies
Print
For the brownies
  1. 1 15 oz can of dark kidney beans - drained and rinsed
  2. 1/4 cup creamy regular or chocolate peanut butter
  3. 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  4. 1/2 cup quick oats
  5. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  6. 1/3 cup brown sugar
  7. 2 tablespoons sugar
  8. 1/4 cup coconut or vegetable oil
  9. 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  10. 1 teaspoon baking powder
  11. 1/2 cup chocolate chips
For the frosting
  1. 1/4 cup milk
  2. 1/4 cup butter
  3. 1 cup powdered sugar
  4. 2/3 cup chocolate chips
  5. 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the brownies
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine all ingredients except chocolate chips in a food processor. Pulse until smooth and creamy.
  3. Stir in chocolate chips and mix with spoon so they are equally distributed.
  4. Grease 8x8 pan and pour brownie mixture in it. Take a spatula to smooth out the top.
  5. Bake the brownies for 16-18 minutes and remove from oven.
For the frosting
  1. Combine milk, butter and powdered sugar together in a saucepan over medium heat, bringing to a boil. Allow to cook at a rolling boil for 30 seconds. Remove from heat.
  2. Add chocolate chips and vanilla to saucepan and stir until the chips are melted.
  3. Pour immediately over warm brownies.
  4. Put in refrigerator to allow brownies to set quickly.
  5. Enjoy!
Brooklyn Farm Girl http://brooklynfarmgirl.com/

Top Tips For Keeping Pesky Squirrels Away!

By the comments left on BFG I know some of you are battling with squirrels in your birdfeeder and gardens.     The one good thing about growing on the roof is that I am away from all pests and rodents so no squirrel chasing for me, but don’t worry, I’m still here to help!

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When I saw this book “Outwitting Squirrels” I knew it would be a perfect topic on BFG.    Also, how great is the cover of the book?  Kinda hard to hate on a squirrel when they seem so dapper, isn’t it?   Outwitting Squirrels offers 101 Cunning Stratagems to take down those dastardly backyard dwellers once and for all—from the practical: an advanced rating system of which squirrel-proof feeder to buy, to the facetious: “Dig a moat around your feeder and fill it with piranha.” And just in case you start getting pulled to the dark side, Adler provides a helpful chapter on “What to Do if You Think Squirrels Are Cute.”   I’m totally guilty of trying to get squirrels to come to our garden as a kid because I’m a animal lover and my dad is totally guilty for yelling at me when the squirrels would steal from the birdfeeder. 

Outwitting Squirrels High Res

Bill Adler, the author, was kind enough to write out some tips for you guys, so let’s take a look at them!

Top tips for keeping pesky squirrels out of your bird feeder this spring:

1. Get your neighbor a birdfeeder. Seriously. Chance are that your neighbor won’t be as good as you at outwitting squirrels, and your neighborhood squirrels will choose the easiest feeder to attack — your neighbor’s. 

2. If you can’t encourage your neighbor to feed squirrels, um birds, then put out a second feeder with nuts. Make it easy for squirrels to get to, and chances are that they will leave your birdfeeder alone.

3. Volunteer to care for a friend’s dog. Let it hang out in your yard. I guarantee that no squirrels will be at your feeder while that dog is around.

4. Consider setting up a temporary office, rest area, play space near your birdfeeder. While squirrels can get accustomed to humans and lose their fear of us, they generally only do that when we feed them.

5. If your feeder hangs from a tree limb, use a thinner string so that the feeder sways more. The more your feeder moves, the more difficult it is for the squirrels.

6. If you use a dome covered feeder, replace the dome every now and then. As the dome become scratched from squirrels trying to penetrate it, it becomes easier for them to hang on to.

7. I like the feeders that have weighted doors — the kind where a squirrel’s weight shuts the door. Squirrels can work in teams to get into those feeders, but it’s not easy for them.

8. Use a smaller feeder. Some squirrels feel safe when they are inside a feeder and the smaller the feeder, the less of a chance they have of feeling that needed security.

9. Put some balloons around the feeder in places where squirrels must pass. Not only are balloons a good barrier, but when the pop, squirrels are guaranteed to run away. 

10. Cats. Lots of cats. You’ll need a few because of the tendency of cats to take naps. Several cats guarantees that one will always be on duty. 

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 Tell me, do you have to deal with squirrels? Do you have any horror stories of them in your yard or garden?

If you’d like a book that will make you chuckle while helping you in the process then check out Outwitting Squirrels.  Reviews are calling it “A masterpiece on squirrel strategy.”  so check it out!  It also has great comparison charts reviewing birdfeeders, so double check it out!
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How to Grow Radishes and Carrots

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

Oh hello rooftops of Brooklyn, look at how beautiful and empty you are! Think of all the fresh veggies that could be grown here! Think of all the mouths that we could feed! Think of all the happiness harvesting would cause! One day I hope to look out and see all these rooftops full of luscious greens, but until then I’ll just keep on promoting…. Empty Rooftops

One of my favorite things to plant are carrots and radishes.  These are both easy to plant and we’ve always had success with getting a great yield, even in the Winter time.  Lots of people ask me what vegetables they should start out with in beginning gardens and I always suggest carrots and radishes.   Radishes are especially great for those new to gardening as they’re ready to pick in less than 30 days which is really helpful when it comes to needing support and motivation.  Once you pick your first homegrown radish, then I know you’ll be hooked more to experiment with new vegetables. 

We always plant D’Avignon radishes which are a traditional variety from Southern France. They grow to be about 4 inches long (and oh so pretty!) and they have a crispy crunch with a bit of spice to them. I usually snack on them whole, put in salads or most often use them in fresh pasta dishes  full of other vegetables we harvest.   My favorite pasta dish recipe that Matthew makes can be found here, we have this so many times during the summer! 

So let’s get planting radishes, alright?

Note: Below I’m planting radishes but we plant carrots the exact same way.  So you can use this method to grow them both exactly the same.

Like our entire garden, the radishes get planted in a container.  I’ve had success with radishes growing in many sized containers, including small window boxes so don’t feel like you need something big to grow in.  This container is about 2×2 feet and will grow 25 radishes, so you really don’t need a lot of space to grow a bunch of radishes. First up, let’s get our potting mix ready with some plant food so these radishes are going to get fed.  Feeding your vegetables = big and healthy, so it’s important to fertilize. How to Plant Radishes and Carrots_3 

Because this is a smaller container I’m going to want to work the food plant into the potting mix with my hands to make sure it gets worked in good and doesn’t end up burning our plants once they’re planted.  For a container this size I use the amount I have in my hand and then another half of it.     How to Plant Radishes and Carrots_2

First we’re going to sprinkle the plant food over the top of the potting mix.  How to Plant Radishes and Carrots_4

Then very lightly work it into the top 1 inch of the potting mix, making sure to evenly distribute it.   It’s a good idea to do this every Spring with your containers as the food lasts 2-3 months which is about how long carrots take.
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Then you’ll start making your rows.  With a rooftop garden, we learn quickly to use all the space we have, so we’ll plant our radish seeds about 4 inches apart.  Planting them this close has never been a problem and gives them plenty of room to grow. How to Plant Radishes and Carrots_6

Then one by one they get planted.
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I took these pictures a few days ago and already every single seed has come up, so again… radishes rule! How to Plant Radishes and Carrots_7

After you put your seeds in, then cover them up and press on the dirt above them to “lock them in”.  Then give them a little water. How to Plant Radishes and Carrots_8

In a few days you’ll see them all start to pop up. Within 2 weeks you’ll be seeing this.WP_20130512_023.jpg

Then around 3-4 weeks your radishes are going to begin popping out of the potting mix.  Your heart is going to pitter patter when you see them ready to be picked!  How to Plant Radishes and Carrots
Organic Choice is a great choice for the environment can be bought at major retailers.  It’s perfect for edible gardening for herbs and vegetables. Learn more at Miracle-Gro Learn And Grow.

Do you grow radishes? What about carrots? What’s your favorite way to enjoy them?

 

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How to Pill a Cat (Without Bleeding)

You’re standing at the vet and they tell you that your cats need to go on medicine.  Ok, no big deal, I’ll just mix it in their food.  Then they tell you the medicine only comes in pill form.  Big deal, you start falling to the floor, sobbing and crying “I’m going to die!”.    For anyone who’s ever had to pill a cat,  this is probably a situation you can relate to.   It’s very rare that a cat will take a pill willingly with a smile,  so sometimes you have to figure out Plan B… and then Plan C, Plan D, Plan E when everything else fails.

Many of you guys expressed how hard pilling was for you in the Bofinkles post so I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to talk about techniques I use for all our critters.   We have 4 cats and every single one of them needs to be pilled a different way. I’m not lying.    So with that, I have done so much research,  so many trials, so much crying to find what works for each of them.   Down below I’m going to discuss all 4 ways we use in hopes that one of them will relate to your cat and help you.

First, some news.   For some of you that follow me on Instagam you might have seen there have been a few trips to the Vet in the last few weeks. All these trips started when Goblin arrived. Right away we noticed Goblin was a bit itchy to the point of where he was scratching himself causing cuts.  Because Brother had ringworm year ago when we brought him home, we had a feeling Goblin did too, but upon the first Vet visit they didn’t recommend this at all so I didn’t want to step on anyones toes.  So then Bofinkles got sick.  And then Goblin started to lose a little hair around his ears and continued to itch.  Then I got ringworm on my leg (I call it a love mark).  Then I took Goblin back to the vet and I said to them “I think it’s Ringworm!”.  They did a black light test but didn’t see anything but I knew the scabs on his ear were totally ringworm as they were the exact same scabs that Brother had.  So  then they took a skin culture and we had to wait 2 weeks.  Well not even 1 week in the vet called and confirmed, Goblin had ringworm. 

When we had Brother we quarantined him for 45 days in our bedroom.  It was quite a ordeal because we had to protect Essy who was a senior and not let Xanadu into the room who is the most curious cat in the world.  Instead of doing the whole quarantine situation the vet recommended that we just give all the cats 1 month of ringworm medicine to both treat Goblin while making sure the other cats don’t get it.  This will allow them to all live together, continue their wrestling and just be normal… while receiving 1 pill a day.

Ringworm is a bit of a bummer in terms of you have to work to defeat it, but it’s something that’s totally treatable so if your cat ever gets it, don’t worry.  For example, Goblin has ringworm but you would not tell in terms of eating or personality. He eats like a hungry man and plays like a crazy man.   And and he’s a giant cuddle bug.. I’m in love!
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Ringworm spores are common at shelters so don’t freak out if you bring home a cat and you find out weeks later it has ringworm. This  happened to us with both Goblin and Brother, but 1-2 months of treatment is worth the world in terms of making your cat healthy, loving it and growing old with it.  

So with 4 cats that now needed to take their daily Fluconazole pill, let’s get to pilling them!

First, take a deep breath. It’s totally going to be ok.  I know at first it might suck and you might get defeated, but you’ll figure it out.  Even when your cat scratches you, bites you, makes a meow like it is dying (its not) just know you have to work hard to get that pill into your cat, it’s important, so don’t give up.  Once you figure out what technique works for your cat then you’ll be smooth sailing (ok, maybe not smooth, but you’ll be calmer.. and your cat too).

The 4 ways that we have to do to pill our cats:
Goblin, hiding in soft food.  EASY.
Bofinkles, hiding in a treat with pill pocket.  EASY.
Brother, turning pill into powder and rubbing on fur.  MEDIUM, BUT PERFECT FOR THE MOST DIFFICULT CAT.
Xanadu, inserting pill into mouth by hand. MEDIUM-DIFFICULT.

So let’s start with the easy ways.  These are both sneaky and if your cat can fall for them I’m so happy for you!

#1:  HIDING PILL IN SOFT FOOD
If a cat sees or smells a pill, it might be stubborn to eat the food, even when it’s laid on top of yummy soft food.   But if a cat really loves wet food and you can hide it in some strong smelling wet food then you’re likely to succeed.
So just throw your pill (or pills) whole in some soft food, then put a little bit of the food on top to hide it.
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Your cat will eat it right up and be licking it’s lips for minutes after.  And even better, it will think that you are really nice by giving it soft food which will result in kisses.
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 #2 HIDING PILL IN PILL POCKET WITH TREATS
Many people have had success with Pill Pockets but our cats think they are gross.  Have you ever smelled a Pill Pocket? It smells pretty bad and nothing like food, so one sniff of it and your cat might be like “No thanks”.   Miss FiFi Bofinkles loves treats, she will ravish you for treats, she will knock other cats out of the way for treats, so going the pill pocket/treat route totally works for her.  And even after she eats the horrible tasting pill pocket, she still looks at me and says “Can I have another treat mom?”
So what you need: Feline Pill Pockets, delicious treats (like Friskies) and your pill.
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First step, put it in the pill pocket.  It doesn’t look appetizing, does it?
Second step, because the pill pocket is soft and sticky, push treats into the top of it.   Bofinkles usually picks one treat up which results in the entire pocket being lifted up, so she just eats one giant treat and loves every minute of it.
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If your cat loves treats, this might be the best way for you.  FiFi Bofinkles approves after eating her big “boat treat” (What I named it).
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#3 TURN PILL INTO POWDER AND RUB INTO FUR
Let’s first talk Brother, he’s a big Maine coon, with giant claws and abs of steel.  He’s made multiple vets bleed, thrown their needles across the room, to the point of noone can clip his claws.   With all that aside, Brother Bear is a giant sweetheart, a gentle giant, but he just doesn’t like to be forced to do things and he hates the vet.  Really hates it.  When he was a baby we had to wrap him up in the blanket method to get him to take a pill, but he was really pissed off and we would get scratched and bitten so bad.  It’s really amazing how strong a cat can be when it’s angry. So now years later and  many workout sessions to get stronger, we knew the blanket method was just not going to work.  During the first night I thought Matthew could hold him and I could open his mouth with my hands and insert the pill straight into his mouth.   Hahahaha, I was so wrong.  While trying to get the pill into his mouth he bit down on my thumb so hard, bruising the entire nail making my thumb unusable for days. This is how it looks a week later,  what a love bite, right?
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So enter the powder + rubbing on fur method.  This is hands down the messiest method, but for us it’s the only way we can pill Brother.  By crushing your pills up into powder (make sure your vet says this is ok) then you have a easier base to work with.    Even when we crush his pills up and put it into soft food, he can smell it and will turn away, so you have to be really sneaky with this trick.     
First step, crush up a pill with the bottom of a spoon. I know this picture looks like we live in a drug den, but Officer I swear this is for my cat!
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Step 2, dip your finger in some Vaseline, then rub into the pill powder.  Depending on how many pills you are giving, or the size, you might have to do this a few times. I also tried dipping my finger in cat food gravy and butter, but the Vaseline sticks better.   Vaseline is often used for hairballs, so it’s safe to use for your cats, but only use a small amount for getting the powder to stick. 
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Then find your cat, you want it to be standing up preferably.   With your dipped finger, wipe the sticky mixture onto their leg/paw.  Often I will have to do this a few times as once you do the first smear your cat will know what’s up. Almost immediately your cat will be disgusted by the mess on it’s leg and will clean it up.  If you have more powder to swipe on then smear it on the opposite leg while they are cleaning their other one.   You’ll receive some glares but your cat will be sure to clean the other mess up right away too.  
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And just like that, your difficult cat will take it’s medicine.  Once it’s done cleaning, there will be no real mess left on it.
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#4 INSERTING PILL BY HAND INTO MOUTH
For this method, you need your cat to trust you.  Also after the first time you surprise your cat with this, every time you pick up your cat to do this again it will know what’s up, so  expect a chase once the pills come out.  Xanadu is our Siamese and she’s paranoid about the world and incredibly cautious, so we have to do this manually by hand.  I’ve given Xanadu liquid medicines by hand so I have it down pretty solid on how to open her mouth and get it done. In fact, I do this to Xanadu by myself, so there’s a lot of trust built up between us… but she still hates it every single time.
Step 1, get your pill.  You can put the pill in your hand but I find using a pill gun so much easier as it’s skinny to fit into your cats mouth and then shoot it into the back of the throat.  This means no fiddling around with the pill in the front of the cat’s mouth.   I bought this at my local pet store for $4 and it’s worth millions in tears.
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Step 2.  Get your cat and hold it tight between your legs.  I do this by myself, so while holding her between my thighs, I reach around with one hand to open the mouth while holding the pill gun with the other.  
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Then I open her mouth wide, keeping my finger there to make sure it stays open.  With the pill gun, I stick it into her mouth and shoot the pill into the back of her throat.
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Immediately after the pill is shot in, I drop the gun onto the floor and close her mouth.   While holding her head up (to swallow), I blow on her nose softly while rubbing her throat with  my fingers.  Both the blowing and the rubbing will cause your cat to swallow, causing the pill to go down with it.  
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You can see your cat swallow by it’s neck, so after 2 swallows I release her knowing the pill went down and we’re safe.
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Then I reward her in kisses, hugs and treats and tell her we’ll never do that again (I lie, I’m a horrible Mother I know).

So that’s how we pill our 4 cats! I hope this helps you some in the future!

Do you have any pilling stories with your pets?

Broccoli Grilled Cheese Sandwich

 Today we’re going to give a makeover to our favorite childhood sandwich, The Grilled Cheese.

As a kid I would beg my Mom to make Grilled Cheese sandwiches for lunch and dinner.  When I wasn’t asking her to make them, I was ordering them at the diner served alongside a big spoonful of mashed potatoes.  Did you ever have grilled cheese and mashed potatoes? It’s the perfect combo, especially if there’s a bunch of gravy poured over your potatoes.

One night we were craving something different for dinner but wanted to use up some fresh broccoli we picked that was growing under the greenhouse.   After a quick broccoli roast, these sandwiches were made and enjoyed… very quickly!  Immediately after finishing his Matthew said “I want another!”.  Me too man, me too.

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Baked Kale Meatballs and Is it Spring? Are you sure?

It’s Spring, right?  Are you sure?  I mean snow and sleet storms happen when it was just 75 degrees a few days ago, right?  Wait.  What is going on?

Spring was here.  The sunshine was blasting.  I had my sunglasses on and short sleeves.  I was planning picnics in the park.  I was ready to get the tomatoes outside.  I was excited for walks for ice cream.  I took my mittens out of my bookbag.  Winter coat? No way, that was packed away.

Then Tuesday night came.  We were on our way home from the last regular season home Brooklyn Nets game (note: The Knicks killed us, but who cares, we’re going to the playoffs unlike you Knicks) when suddenly it just started sleeting and snowing.  We’re talking sleet that comes down and cuts you in the face.  We’re talking a storm where you get home and you have to throw your clothes right in the washer because you’re soaked.  We’re talking weather where there’s no way of not looking like a wet dog (note: I do not look cute like a dog does.  I look like a monster).  This all happened…. in Mid April!

So immediately worries set in for the garden.  Broccoli, Cauliflower, Bok Choy, Lettuce, Peas, Carrots, Radishes, Kale, Onions and more were already planted.   We were historically set to not go below freezing again and we were definitely set for not having snow again until Winter.  Then Mother Nature had to go out and have a bad day…

There’s not  much you can do to protect a garden in mid storm.  Yes, you can brave the sleet while getting soaked to throw on some fabric to protect them from the freezing temperatures (which is what we did), but there comes a time where you just have to hope the plants are going to be ok and just leave them be.    The wait is the worst feeling.    During the next morning we ventured to the roof to find our peas in snow, with more fabric being pressed into the plants due to snow weight on top.  

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The kale didn’t look good.  The lettuce didn’t look great.  The sugar snap peas looked frozen.  The onions were knocked over.. but it was too early to tell as they still needed some afternoon sun to bounce back.
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One thing was certain though, the kale had to be picked. If you guys remember, this kale was planted last Summer (!) and it somehow survived Winter (!) so in terms of how long it’s been planted, it was a real true survivor.  I was a bit bummed that this freak storm was the one to finally destroy it, but time was not on it’s side. Kale, Sleet Snow Storm April 2014_1

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So with my winter coat on with a somber heart (I’m so dramatic, I know) I picked all 6 kale plants.  These kale plants really grew fantastically and even though they were destroyed by the weather, it was close to time to pick them anyways as they were starting to flower.   I got pounds of kale off these plants and my entire bottom shelf of the refrigerator is now full of kale. 
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But first I had to take a dramatic photo of me with my baby kale and title it “Kale Mother” to post on Instagram.  I love my friend Avery’s comment: PAMALEESI: MOTHER OF KALES
“Kale Mother”, the story of a mother losing her kale plants in a freak sleet snow storm during Spring of 2014 when it was 70 degrees a few days ago.  #kale #rip #mother #artphotography #art #documentary #gardenchat #bluehair #manicpanic  #rooftop #NYC #Br

 

How did the other plants do after they thawed out? We think everything is ok.  A few leaves got burned by the frost, but the lettuce bounced back beautifully and the peas are still standing tall (alongside the onions).    Let’s take a collective sigh of relief as it could have been a real disaster with months of seedling planning ruined.   I guess we had a little luck saved! 

So now with a ton of kale.. what are we going to do?  I wanted to make something right away so I could use up a few full cups of kale, as I get a little stressed with too much kale!  We love our kale turkey meatballs, especially on a hoagie,  so I decided to make a double batch and put a spin on this recipe with mixing the meats.  This was the perfect solution because I got 1 dinner that night out of it, and 2-3 extra dinners to freeze.  Lately we’ve been craving meatballs with pasta but we’re too lazy to make them when hunger hits, so now they’re all ready to be eaten (after being defrosted!)

So let’s make some meatballs! First the kale was picked.  But first I had to weigh in. This year I’m going to keep track of how much we grow to see.  I’ve been telling myself to do this every year but this year I’m going to do it! (I hope..)
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 In my other meatballs recipe I usually pan fry them but I didn’t feel like babysitting them so I decided to bake them instead.   I loaded 2 cookie sheets full of meatballs!
Baked Kale Meatballs

These meatballs turned out beautifully! They were crisp on the outside, moist in the inside and full of flavor.    These might be some of the best meatballs I ever made so I was happy to see them made alongside our garden kale.  Having a bit of homegrown in every meal always makes it better, right?    Also these are going to make your home smell great.  When someone walked in our front door about 2 hours after baking they said “It smells so good in here!”.  It totally did.

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 To freeze them, I separate them into meals and put in a freezer bag.  When it’s time to enjoy them, I’ll let them sit out for a bit to defrost, then warm them up to eat, or throw in a pot to cook alongside the pasta sauce.

Baked Kale Meatballs

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Baked Kale Meatballs
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Ingredients
  1. 4 cups uncooked chopped fresh kale
  2. 1 pound ground turkey
  3. 1 pound ground beef
  4. 2 pinches each of dried rosemary, parsley and oregano
  5. 3 tablespoons olive oil
  6. 6 cloves garlic
  7. 2 eggs
Instructions
  1. Add 3 tablespoons of olive oil to a pan over medium high heat. Add kale and spices. Cook until your kale is wilted.
  2. Put kale mixture and garlic into a food processor and chop it up. Add your turkey and egg and pulse until it's combined. Depending on food processor size you might have to do 2 batches.
  3. Form this mixture into 1-2 inch balls.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  5. Line 2 cookie sheets with aluminum foil and spray with nonstick spray.
  6. Put meatballs on foil and cook 35-40 minutes or until the internal temperature is 160 degrees.
  7. Enjoy right away, or freeze for later.
Notes
  1. Makes 30 meatballs.
Brooklyn Farm Girl http://brooklynfarmgirl.com/
Have a great weekend everyone!
How’s the weather where you are?  Is it finally Spring?

Glazed Carrot Cake Donuts

In this recipe, we’re going to go farm to table by picking fresh garden carrots and making delicious carrot cake donuts!

This Winter we got very lucky with our carrots.  We didn’t have high hopes for them but upon one Spring cleanup day we were surprised to find pounds of carrots hiding under the soil waiting for us to find them.  It was a giant surprise and it created some giant garden smiles

Aren’t they just beauties?  I just can’t get enough of fresh carrots.  There’s nothing like the taste of a carrot that was just picked.  Sometimes I nibble on one as soon as I pick it, I just can’t help myself.  So I took the carrots down to the kitchen and pondered… What to make?  I was craving carrots for dinner so I made some brown sugar glazed carrots that were delicious but I wanted to make a dessert with them too.  
Carrot Cake Donuts

I had a real craving for carrot cake but I didn’t have everything on hand.  Then I thought to myself: DONUTS!  Then I thought..

CARROT CAKE DONUTS!

Glazed Carrot Cake Donuts

These donuts taste just like carrot cake with a sweet sugary glaze on top.  Think of a bakery glazed donut + a carrot cake…. all as fresh as possible.   The freshness of the carrots really make these donuts something special and you really get a nice taste of the carrots with the sweetness of the donuts.  

These donuts are definitely a keeper in my garden notebook now. I can’t wait for our next carrot harvest to make (and devour!) some more Carrot Cake Donuts!

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Glazed Carrot Cake Donuts
Print
Ingredients
  1. 1 egg
  2. 1/2 cup orange juice
  3. 1/4 cup melted butter
  4. ½ teaspoon vanilla
  5. 1/4 cup brown sugar
  6. 1 cup flour
  7. 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  8. 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  9. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  10. 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  11. ¼ teaspoon allspice
  12. 1 ¼ cup shredded carrots
For the glaze
  1. 2 tablespoons milk
  2. 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  3. 1 cups confectioners powdered sugar
For the donuts
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Beat egg in large bowl. Add orange juice, butter, vanilla and sugar, beat well.
  3. Stir in flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and allspice and mix till moistened.
  4. Gently fold in shredded carrots.
  5. Fill donut pan up.
  6. Bake for 9-11 minutes. Let cool for 2 minutes.
For the glaze
  1. Combine milk and vanilla in a saucepan and heat over medium heat.
  2. Stir in confectioners powdered sugar into milk mixture. Whisk slowly, until well combined.
  3. Remove from heat and dip each donut into glaze.
  4. Set on rack until cool enough to eat.
Notes
  1. Makes 12 donuts.
Brooklyn Farm Girl http://brooklynfarmgirl.com/
These would make a great treat for this Easter.   What bunny would say no to carrots in donut form?
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For more information contact Pamela at pamela@pamelareed.com.