1
Weekly Round Up
2
Confetti Cake Batter Brownies
3
Harvesting Onions and Radishes
4
Cookie Dough Overnight Oatmeal
5
Preserving Strawberries, Kale and Basil
6
Gardening and Cooking in Atlanta
7
Banana, Strawberry, Pineapple Smoothie
8
Weekly Round Up
9
Vertical Growing Green Beans
10
Slow Cooker Pot Roast
11
Sugar Snap Pea Update
12
Creamy Mashed Potatoes
13
Weekly Round Up
14
Peanut Butter Pretzel Chocolate Chip Granola Bars
15
For The Love of Pineapple
16
Planting The Tomatoes
17
Gingerbread Popcorn
18
Soho House Berlin Review
19
Weekly Round Up
20
Slow Cooker Chicken Chipotle Tacos

Weekly Round Up

What’s your favorite season?  Mine is the Fall – best holidays, best food, best weather.  Don’t get me wrong, the summer makes the garden come alive that delights me, but personally I can’t deal with heat or humidity.   For the past week the weather remains confused on what kind of clothes it would like me to wear – is it a sweatshirt and stocking cap, or a sundress?  After starting chilly this week, it’s warmed up to the point of I am already declaring to Matthew “I’m not going to make it” to which I dramatically fall on our cold (feels nice) cement floors.    You can sense the heat is starting with the cats too, they’re starting to do their lazy stretches against a cool wall.    Or in Bofinkles case, just a long stretch anywhere with her hot pink belly.

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Recipes I shared:
Overnight Cookie Dough Oatmeal – great to have on those hot days!
Confetti Cake Batter Brownies – these win my heart.
Banana, Strawberry, Pineapple Smoothie – simple and refreshing.
Tri Color Pasta Salad – a get together favorite!
How to preserve kale, basil and strawberries to use in recipes months from now!

Here are some recipes I pinned this week:

Sweet and Snacks
Best Ever Banana Bread – do you love banana bread? I do! Especially with this cream cheese frosting!
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cannolis – I love cannolis, especially with chocolate chips!
Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Skillet – one giant skillet cookie, yes please!
Basil & sun-dried tomato crackers  – would love to mess around with some other herbs here too!

Dinner Time
Cheesy Chicken Doritos Casserole – Doritos for dinner? Yes, please!
Taco Pizza – The 2 best foods combined.
White Bean, Potato, Kale Soup – I’ve been craving soup, even with the heat.
Baby Bok Choy with Ground Chicken Stir Fry – I love bok choy!
Cheesy Chicken Noodles – A comfort food.

 

Internet Finds This Week

How amazing are these Mr Men and Little Miss nails?  It includes Mr. Tickle!  Mr. Men series are my favorite, I love them dearly.    I was feeling blue a few nights ago and Matthew read me Mr Tickle in bed – it was one of those moments I’ll remember with a smile forever. 🙂
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It’s not Halloween, but that doesn’t mean I can’t already start planning.  Halloween is my favorite holiday!  How great are these scrap wood signs?  They can be applied to anything!
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Scotland’s nonprofit James Hutton Institute have developed a transparent soil that more closely resembles the real deal. For the main ingredient, they use small particles of the polymer Nafion, which holds nutrients and becomes clear when mixed with water. With the transparent soil, scientists will be able to observe how roots grow, take up nutrients, and associate with microbes without having to destroy the setup. – Popular Science 
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Later this year, a team from the Geor­gia Tech Research Institute in Atlanta will put the finishing touches on an autonomous robotic chicken butcher. The Intelligent Deboning System, a one-armed knife-wielding automaton, has the brains and dexterity to debone a bird in four seconds flat, on par with a human butcher.   During the part where it looks at the chicken before cutting, each chicken passes through a kind of photo booth. Inside, two pairs of stereo cameras scan the bird, one pair per side. A computer instantly renders the images into a 3-D map of the bird. It also identifies useful markers, such as the humerus and the coracoid bones.- Popular Science
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 Home This Week
I picked some pretty flowers that have lasted all week on our farmhouse table.   Flowers just make a space feel special.
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Matthew is making my dreams come true and is building me more kitchen shelf space!  If you live in the city you know how small kitchens are, but what do you do when you like to use your kitchen and have no more room for your beloved appliances and gadgets?  The Great: Getting more shelf space!  The Bad: Waiting, Seeing the kitchen a mess!  The shelves are going to be open, do you think I should paint them or put some type of design paper on them? 
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We spent a long time deciding how tall the shelves should be.  As you can see from all the X’s, I changed my mind alot!
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And now it’s joint compound time!
Joint Compound Timez

Pretty sure Matthew needs a  new closet just for his sneakers.  
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Around The Neighborhood
Pratt is a popular Brooklyn art university, and since I live in the neighborhood I get to walk on it’s open campus.  They have the most gorgeous flowers,  beautiful green grass and sculptures all over.  They also have a handful of cats that I love dearly.
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I love when people add some good kitsch to their sidewalk.
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Who would throw this BOO treasure out?
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Food and Friends:
Checked out a new pizza place nearby, called Speedy Romeo.    It was Tuesday night which is apparently jazz nigh which adds a nice vibe.  

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Here are the pizza choices.  The pizzas used Provel cheese which is very popular in St. Louis.  It’s a cheese made up of provolone, Swiss and cheddar.  It has a unique taste and melts nicely.
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We each ordered a different personal pie and then just split everything. top left: Roast Garlic, Ricotta, Provel, Pecorino, Bechamel. top right: Wild Mushrooms, Smoked Mozzarella, Farm Egg, Sage. bottom left: Provel, Italian Sausage, Pepperoni, Pickled Chilis. bottom right: Speck, Pineapple, Provel.  I decided the winner was the bottom left which is odd because I’m usual a plain pizza lover.  
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We had a S’more chocolate pie for dessert which was yummy.  We also had overpriced ice cream which they gave us a scoop the size of a gum drop, I am not sharing a picture of it because it still depresses me.
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Lunch at our local diner which is a hidden gem.  It’s never over $10 for 2 big dishes, I love it there!
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We went to a friends house for Chilean hotdogs.  The traditional version “completo” is chopped tomatoes, mayonnaise (a large amount) and sauerkraut on a hot dog. 
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Because mayo is one of the scariest things in the world, I went for the good ol American hot dog with just ketchup.  I did put sauerkraut and tomatoes on the side to eat.  I’m sorry, I’m not adventurous! 
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I brought my peanut butter chocolate chip pretzel granola bars to enjoy for dessert!  My friend Paul is a fan.  WP_20130525_021.jpg

 I have been keeping cool and refreshed with this strawberry, apple and mint smoothie.  I’ve been using my frozen strawberries! 
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Cat News:
It was Xanadu’s birthday, she turned 7!  She got to play with whatever toy she wanted to.  
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I hugged her tightly and baked her a custom sized cupcake.
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Then she got to sit in any bag she wanted to. Cats, they live crazy lives!
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Brother just continued to be the best boy this week.
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Yes, they are.
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Garden Update:
All the corn is up!
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Sugar Snap pea flowers mean sugar snap peas soon!
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We have a cabbage head in there! We have a few, 4 to be exact! 
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First year growing Brussels Sprouts,  anxiously awaiting to see those grow fully!
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Our tomatoes are loving the heat.  They have exploded. 
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Spotted our first few roma tomatoes too!  We usually pinch the flowers off in May, but since they are growing so rapidly this year we are trying to let them grow earlier.
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Broccoli, my love of the garden!
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I am pretty sure we will be enjoying some broccoli and noodles shortly!
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One late windy night  we checked on the garden.  We were greeted by the most beautiful moonlight when stepping out on the roof. 
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Are you doing anything fun this weekend? What’s the weather like where you are?
I hope you have a good one!

Confetti Cake Batter Brownies

Easy to make sprinkle Confetti Cake Batter Brownies recipe. These brownies are moist and so ooey gooey good!

Do you know how much I love cake batter? No.  Well let me tell you.. I love cake batter!

Confetti Sprinkle Cake Batter Brownies - these are ooey gooey good!

I can eat cake batter brownies, cookies, cupcakes, cake, pudding, popcorn, milkshakes.  If it begins with the word “cake batter” I’m in 100%.  

I even  (guiltily) enjoy a bowl of just cake batter, to be enjoyed with a spoon, or your tongue as you look around to  make sure noone is watching you act like a human dishwasher (totally ok, do it all the time, I’ve even been caught a few times, just ignore it and keep going).

Confetti Sprinkle Cake Batter Brownies - these are ooey gooey good!

Now you can call them blondies if you want, but I’m going to go with brownies because it feels more comfortable.   A vanilla brownie, let’s call it that.  Or  a albino brownie, we can do that.  I’ve googled this brownie vs blondie debate and the wounds go deep with those on both sides, but I think we can come together and just enjoy this.  

Let’s just call this amazing, because that’s what it is.  I am pretty sure these bake batter brownies can stop wars.  In fact, I am going to send a letter to the White House letting them know of this.  Thank me later POTUS!

The other great thing is these can be stored for about a week, but seriously – these won’t even last 3 days.   If I stop by, 2 days at the most! Beep Beep, one cake batter monster coming through…
Confetti Sprinkle Cake Batter Brownies - these are ooey gooey good!

 So let’s begin baking these beauties.  

 
Confetti Sprinkle Cake Batter Brownies - these are ooey gooey good!You want to use cake mix for these, the Funfetti or Confetti variety.  I used Confetti.  It’s the same thing.  It’s  made of rainbows and it makes me very happy!

Confetti Sprinkle Cake Batter Brownies - these are ooey gooey good!
What else makes me happy? Additional rainbow sprinkles and white chocolate chips.   


Confetti Sprinkle Cake Batter Brownies - these are ooey gooey good!Mix cake mix, oil, egg and milk together…


Confetti Sprinkle Cake Batter Brownies - these are ooey gooey good!To this beautiful mixture.  Now take a spoon and eat it.  I’m kidding.  No, I’m not.  Really, I’m not.


Confetti Sprinkle Cake Batter Brownies - these are ooey gooey good!Then add your white chocolate chips and sprinkles.  This amount of color makes my day happier.


Confetti Sprinkle Cake Batter Brownies - these are ooey gooey good!Mix it all around.  Get those sprinkles and chocolate chips mixed in there.


Confetti Sprinkle Cake Batter Brownies - these are ooey gooey good!And then take another spoonful because you’ve been a very good (bad) girl.

Confetti Sprinkle Cake Batter Brownies - these are ooey gooey good!
Then before you eat all the cake batter, put it in a baking dish.  I used a 11x9ish dish and I feel this made them just the right amount of soft and gooey that I wanted.  Put in the oven.

Now wonder around your house while cake batter fills the air.  During this time I like to lay near the kitchen, close my eyes and enter a magical world of rainbow happiness.  
And when it’s time… 

Confetti Sprinkle Cake Batter Brownies - these are ooey gooey good!
These gorgeous cake batter brownies will appear!

Confetti Sprinkle Cake Batter Brownies - these are ooey gooey good!
You want to keep them in the oven just until the edges are very slightly brown.  25-30 minutes, mine took 26 minutes to be very exact.

Confetti Sprinkle Cake Batter Brownies - these are ooey gooey good!
Then let them cool.  During this time just sit near them and stare lovingly at them.

Confetti Sprinkle Cake Batter Brownies - these are ooey gooey good!
Cats will show up and marvel at the wonder you just created! Then hug your cats because this is a great day.

Confetti Sprinkle Cake Batter Brownies - these are ooey gooey good!
Don’t you just love how it bubbles up slightly around the edges to give it a nice soft crust?  Oh it’s lovely.

Confetti Sprinkle Cake Batter Brownies - these are ooey gooey good!
When they’re cool, you can cut into brownies.  You can cut the into small squares or go big.   
Then serve yourself one as soon as possible.  It’s like when you’re on a airplane and they tell you to first put the oxygen mask on yourself, then your child.  This is the same exact thing.  You eat the first cake batter brownie.  Children come later.

Confetti Sprinkle Cake Batter Brownies - these are ooey gooey good!
Can we talk about how gooey the middles are?  It’s the perfect combination.  The edges are firm, enough to cut and move around, but the middles still have that cake batter that brings sunshine to my life.
Hello Pretty Princess!

Confetti Sprinkle Cake Batter Brownies - these are ooey gooey good!
When Matthew got home, the first thing he asked was “What is that smell?”.  I answered “Perfection”. Then smiled creepily because I was in a sweet high coma.

Confetti Sprinkle Cake Batter Brownies - these are ooey gooey good!
These are perfect for parties, dessert after dinner, a gift to your friend (you can sneak one two before giving) or just a Thursday because Wednesday wasn’t a good day.

Confetti Sprinkle Cake Batter Brownies - these are ooey gooey good!
And when there’s only one left, please wrestle anyone in your way to get it!

Easy to make sprinkle Confetti Cake Batter Brownies recipe. These brownies are moist and so ooey gooey good!

More Brownie Recipes!

Looking for more brownie recipes?  Try my..

100 Calorie Single Serving Brownie

Little Debbie Cosmic Brownies Recipe

Fudgy Black Bean Brownies

And if you’re looking for more sprinkle recipes make sure to try my Birthday Cake Muffins and Confetti Cake Batter Brownies and White Chocolate Toffee Recipe!

Confetti Cake Batter Brownies

Easy to make sprinkle Confetti Cake Batter Brownies recipe. These brownies are moist and so ooey gooey good!

Course Dessert
Servings 12

Ingredients

  • 1 box Confetti/Funfetti cake mix
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup rainbow sprinkles
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Spray 11x9 baking pan with nonstick spray.
  3. Combine cake mix, vegetable oil, egg and milk into a bowl. Mix around.
  4. Add sprinkles and white chocolate chips, continue to mix.
  5. Pour into baking pan, sprinkle a few more rainbow sprinkles on top.
  6. Bake 25-30 minutes until your edges are slightly brown.
  7. Allow to cool, then cut into brownies.

Recipe Notes

Store in container.

Harvesting Onions and Radishes

*Does the happy harvest dance*
What, you don’t know what that looks like?  Good.  You don’t want to see it.  You will get too much second hand embarrassment.

 We have harvested our first onions and radishes of the season! And boy are they delicious!  This was our first time growing radishes, we grew the french breakfast variety.  Verdict?  I need to plant these again, asap, but about 10 times the amount because they’re so good! We’re talking, snack happy radishes.  They taste like a carrot, but with a bit of heat.  They’re fresh, they have the crunch.  They are perfect!

The great thing about radishes? They’re super quick to grow.  In just one month you will have radishes from seed to harvest.  Cool, right?

After about 2 weeks you will spot the bright pink…
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Then before you know, they will be pushing through begging for you to pull out!
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Can we talk about how beautiful these are?  Radishes are in the group of “perfect looking” vegetables.  Even covered in dirt they look fly.
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Sometimes they don’t even make it down from the garden, I just nibble on them right there.
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Sigh, they’re just perfect looking!
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So for dinner one night, I picked a bunch of lettuce, kale, spinach, mixed greens…. hello beautiful greens!
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Then threw in some tomatoes, black beans and avocado.  Put a little lime juice on top.  Cut up a radish.  It was perfect!  It was exactly what I needed after a few days of eating not so great out of town.
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And because I’m radish crazy right now, I just planted a whole new box of them!  I can’t wait to see them…WP_20130527_042

Next up… the wonderful world of.. onions!
Disclaimer:  There is one thing I don’t eat in the garden, that is onions.  Since a child, I have been frightened of onions.  Very very frightened.  I’ve learned to love almost everything I’ve been scared of as a kid, but there are 2 things I can’t break: onions and mayo.    Matthew, my love, is a onion fan.  

Onions are pretty easy to grow, we start them from seed then I go through the process of separating them.  One onion grows per seed.  We grow onions year round, so there’s always some in beginning stages while others are finishing up.

It’s pretty easy to know when they’re ready to pick.  One day you will just have large green stems sticking out…
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Then you will look one day and spot big onion bulbs poking out.  Don’t be afraid to dig around the soil to see if you got any, and how big they are. 
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This one is ready to pick!  Just dig around, and pull it up!
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Then you better cheer because you just grew a onion!
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Let’s check this beautiful onion out.  These plants are huge.  Not only are the bulbs a good size but the green stem is huge.  It’s easily over 18 inches high.  Tip: You can chop the green stem up, use it just like scallions.  If my dad is reading this he’s probably swooning at the thoughts of growing scallions!
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Look at the roots on this guy!
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Is there anything more pretty than a dirty perfect onion sitting on your cutting board?  
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Even as a non onion eater, I can appreciate the perfection of a onion.  I mean come on, this complex vegetable starts as one little seed. It always amazes me.  It will never stop.
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Then peel, chop, use however you want.  I caught Matthew at the cutting board just chopping them guy up, throwing it straight into his mouth.  Then his eyes closed. He was in onion ecstasy.  Later that night we made homemade taco bowls, Matthew’s was packed full of onions!
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So get out and plant some radishes and onions!
Are you growing any?

Cookie Dough Overnight Oatmeal

Did you ever wake up in the morning and the last thing you want to do is make breakfast? Actually, the last thing you want to do is wake up, but after that.. you just don’t want to make anything.  As some of you know my go to breakfast is my usual breakfast sandwich, and although it’s quick to make, sometimes I just want breakfast in 10 seconds.  My solution?  Overnight cookie dough oatmeal.  Get ready… this oatmeal is magical!

Knowing you will want a few extra minutes to sleep, or knowing you are going to have a hectic morning, or just knowing this oatmeal is so darn good you want to plan in advance, this is a overnight recipe.  Before you go to sleep, stir together all these ingredients, it takes 2 minutes.  Throw it in the fridge.  When you wake up the next morning, splash a little bit of milk on top, and eat away.  It’s that easy!

Can I tell you how much this breakfast fills me as well?   This breakfast easily gets me through until lunch wanting no snacks in between.  And because the oatmeal has peanut butter in it and tastes like cookie dough, it’s like a breakfast dessert.  Dessert for breakfast – can life be any grander?

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For this recipe you need flax seeds.  I didn’t know much about flax seeds, but here’s what I found out: they rule.   Putting them in the overnight oatmeal is going to make the oats thicken, so they aren’t runny.  You can also add them to muffin and cookie recipes.  And because of how little you use, this bag is going to last me at a long time.  Flax seeds are a good investment.

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Just a side note, Matthew’s younger brother was terrified of the Quaker Oats man as a kid.  Matthew (because he’s a loving brother) still sometimes sends him Quaker Oats wrapped up as a gift (to terrify him more).

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Night before, easy.  Just put all your ingredients in a bowl.   

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Then mix it all around.  If you notice, it looks runny because of the milk.  Your flax seeds are going to take care of that though and thicken it!

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The next morning, thick!  Delicious! I add a little splash of milk, stir it around, then it’s breakfast time.

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You an eat it plain, it’s delicious that way, or you can add a topping. Topping ideas: sliced bananas, dried or fresh berries, shredded coconut, pumpkin seeds, chocolate chips. 

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I love some dried blueberries so that’s what I added.

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Enjoy your breakfast! This one is a keeper.

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Here’s some flowers I picked to start the day off bright too!

What’s your favorite oatmeal topping?

Overnight Cookie Dough Oatmeal

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon peanut butter you can use another nut butter of your choice if you'd like
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon flax seeds
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
  • topping to your liking

Instructions

  1. Stir all ingredients together in a bowl.
  2. Cover bowl with lid, put in refrigerator overnight.
  3. Right before eating, add a small splash of milk and mix again.
  4. Add toppings that you'd like!

Recipe Notes

Topping ideas: sliced bananas, dried or fresh berries, shredded coconut, pumpkin seeds, chocolate chips.

Preserving Strawberries, Kale and Basil

Instructions on How to Preserve Strawberries

As the garden season takes off, I will be doing a series of posts on how to preserve everything you grow so you can enjoy them now and many months later.   We won’t let any of our hard work that went into planting and caring for these plants go to waste here!

I often say “I garden because I cook”.    My love for being in the kitchen goes hand in hand with getting my nails dirty pushing down seeds.    

Here are other reasons why I love bringing these worlds of gardening and cooking together:

-You learn where everything comes from.  Did you know Brussels Sprouts grow the way they do? I didn’t either!    By gardening you see the process from seed to harvest, it often surprises you!
-You respect everything you grow.   Those pumpkins that I grew? They came from me pollinating them for a week straight at 5:30AM in the morning.   Those tomatoes that are beautiful red and perfect?   They stayed alive because you ran out into the pouring rain to make sure their windblocker fabric was up and everything was secure.    Those sugar snap peas?  Do you know how long they take to pick? Oh my!
-You try new vegetables.   I hated lettuce before we had our garden, now I’m like a rabbit where Matthew has to shoo me away.    I never tried radishes before, now I eat them whole.  
-This results into trying new dishes in the kitchen.  Pesto? Never made before, except now I have about 10 different recipes for it with every different plant.   I scour websites and cookbooks looking for new ways to use tomatoes, broccoli, carrots.  Dinner, Lunch, Desserts – I try it all!    The most important part is starting with a base you love.  So grow what you like!  
-Preserve! Preserve! Preserve!   This is the big one for me.  There are a few weeks in July and August that I am spending many hours every single day preserving our tomatoes to last us (forever).  So you just grew those kale plants – but did you have any idea how much kale grows on a plant? Or those edamame plants that I grew last year – did I know that I would get 20 pounds of edamame, all at once?  What are you going to do?  Well you just spent so much time and energy and love on these plants to grow great vegetables so now we’re not going to let it go to waste! Oh no we aren’t!  We are going to preserve it!    Did you know I had to buy my first can of diced tomatoes earlier this month because I had enough saved from last summer’s harvest?  Do you know how awesome of a feeling that is to have fresh vegetables you grew in your freezer all winter long?  Oh it’s snowing out and 3 degrees, let me just grab a extra fresh pack of frozen green beans that I grew a few months back.  *High 5’s*

 I spend quite a bit of time preserving everything we grow, and figuring out new ways to try.  One year I went as crazy as literally not wasting any of the broccoli plants, by finding ways to use the leaves and chop up the stems.    I blanch, I freeze whole, I puree,  I turn into sauces, I chop, I husk, I dry.  I do whatever it takes to preserve everything.   This post will be dedicated to strawberries, kale and basil.    Sometimes in future posts, I will give you another idea for the same vegetable.  There are many ways to preserve each plant, so I want to share some options for whatever is best for you in your kitchen. 🙂

Strawberries
Who doesn’t love strawberries?  And is there anything better than a sweet strawberry picked right off the vine and plopped straight into your mouth?  Oh yum!  But what happens when you are are harvesting pounds of strawberries?  Or what happens when you go the grocery store and find out that they are selling pints of strawberries for 89 cents.  Buy a bunch, we can keep your strawberry love stocked up for months!

We are going to freeze strawberries.   Strawberries keep in a freezer for a long time, I’m talking  a year.  Amazing, right?

What can we do with frozen strawberries? Well I’m glad you asked.
Smoothies!  My favorite.  Throw frozen strawberries in your blender and continue as usual in creating your favorite smoothie.
-Throw them into pies.
-Strawberry jelly!
-Strawberry sauce! Blend them up and pour over ice cream, cakes and waffles.
-Strawberry butter.  Yup,  you heard me right!
-Make strawberry bread.
-Strawberry salad.

Here are your beautiful strawberries.  
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Seriously, aren’t they the most loveliest things in the world?   I hope one day I can be at least 1% cool and classy as strawberries.
Now you want to wash them, wash them real good.
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Then once they are washed, you want to hull them.  Basically you want to rip off their green tops and cores.  You can do this a variety of ways with special tools, or just a knife.  Personally I just use my finger nails to get in there.   Then lay them on a cookie sheet and let freeze.    Once they are frozen, put them into freezer bags.  
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Then when you need some strawberries, take them out of your freezer and bask in the glory of them!  Use them however you want.  I will be making myself one happy strawberry smoothie. 🙂
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Kale
Kale, the winner of everything cool in 2013. Do you hear all the buzz about kale?  What a popular guy.    It seems to be the king of greens!  One cup of kale contains 36 calories, 5 grams of fiber, and 15% of the daily requirement of calcium and vitamin B6, 40% of magnesium, 180% of vitamin A, 200% of vitamin C, and 1,020% of vitamin K.  It is also a good source of minerals copper, potassium, iron, manganese, and phosphorus.  Can we say it’s healthy?  


So what to do with kale?  When you’ve eaten your share of fresh raw kale, let’s figure out ways to preserve it, so you can be eating this vegetable powerhouse for months to come!
I like to make kale cubes, which is basically kale all chopped up, frozen into cubes.  It’s all kale, nothing else added in. 

What you can do with those frozen kale cubes?
-Smoothies! Again!  Want a real pick me up?  Throw a kale cube into your next smoothie.  
-Defrost and mix into pasta.  Warm through.  
-Throw a cube or two into any soup or stew.   Just a little bit of frozen kale goes a long way in getting your vitamins in!
-Defrost and mix with meats to make delicious ravioli.
-Defrost and mix with meats to make delicious meatballs!

Kale!  You hearty animal you (not really a animal). 
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I destem it.  I do this with my hands too, I just rip it off.  Maybe I’m the animal here.  Then I rip it into pieces to fit it into my food processor.preserveIMG_2401
A few pulses later and your once entire food process cup hardly has any kale in it.  Kale likes to shrink.  preserveIMG_2403
Then spoon it out and throw in some ice cube trays.
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Fill them up to the top.    A entire bushel of kale filled up one ice cube tray, so pack it down.  Now put into the freezer.
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Once they’re frozen, poke them out with a fork.    I find it works best to let them sit on your counter for a few minutes, then poke them out.  They defrost pretty quickly for you to grab one out of the tray.  From here you can keep them in the tray and use as you want, or throw them in freezer bags.
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Because you packed them in, they stay in cube form nicely.preserveIMG_2475

 

Basil
Who else loves the smell of basil?  I love picking fresh basil and putting it in pasta, and especially on pizza! A slice of margarita pizza with basil is the key to my pizza loving heart.   But what do you do when you have pounds of basil and you can’t eat 8 pizzas a nights (don’t try this, just believe me).  You can dry it!
I love dried herbs.  Almost 80% of the time if a recipe calls for fresh herbs, I will ignore it and use dried herbs.  Why? Because I know the dried herbs are ones I grew, loved and they will taste just as good in the dish!  
What can you do with dried basil?
-Any dish call for fresh basil? You can substitute with dried basil.
-Use in any tomato pasta.
-Sprinkle over each lasagna layer.
-Sprinkle over pizza.
-Use in rices.
-Use in a varieties of stews and soups for extra seasoning.
-Use in pasta salad.
-Sprinkle on garlic bread.

So let’s pick your basil!  What you want to do is wash it, then let dry.  I do this by putting it on paper towel sheets and then help blotting excess water on top.  Let dry completely.
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Then find a space of your home that you want to smell like basil for the next few weeks.  Grab a rubber band and hang on something.  We have screws in the top of our loft that we drilled in just for drying herbs.  This is at the very front entrance of our loft, so as soon as you walk in… it’s fresh city USA.preserveIMG_2412
Then just let dry until they are completely brittle.  If the basil seems “fresh” and flexible they aren’t dry enough.  You basically want them to the point of if you touched a leaf, it would crack.  You can see in the top right of this picture I have some dried oregano ready to go.  
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Then pick the leaves off the plant (do this over a bowl, the leaves are going to fall apart beautifully).  Throw in your food processor and you’re done.  If you don’t have a food processor, just crumble with your fingers.  Now you have dried basil ready for whenever you want!preserveIMG_2467

 

Gardening and Cooking in Atlanta

YAWN.  YAWN.  YAWN.  Takes a sip of caffeinated tea.  Eyes start to close.  Oh, sorry! Hello there!

The last week has been go, go, go go!  Do you know what I’m doing tomorrow? I’m sleeping in!  You won’t even be able to wake me up if you tried (I’m talking to you cats).    Since late last week I have been gardening pretty heavily to get everything ready for my Gardenieres shoot on our rooftop garden.  Saturday and Sunday was spent building some containers, picking some vegetables and showing everyone around our space.   The weather wasn’t supper cooperative though, Sunday it rained (it poured actually), so I apologize for having wet bangs and squinting as rain drips into my eyes.  

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Banana, Strawberry, Pineapple Smoothie

The last few afternoons I have been craving a smoothie.  We’ve been hard at work gardening and all I want is a cold “pick me up” when I’m exhausted.  This does the trick!  The best thing about this recipe is that you can match fruit to your liking and create your own. Other examples:  banana, orange, pear watermelon, kiwi banana, orange, strawberries banana, blueberries watermelon, orange, pineapple banana, apple, orange pineapple, kiwi orange, strawberries banana, peach strawberry, banana blueberries, apple, banana banana, cherries pineapple, blueberries blueberry, pomegranate, banana There are so many more variations.  Isn’t it amazing?   I also love this recipe because it gets rid of any fruit where you aren’t sure what to do with.  Many times I’m left with a few random strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, a banana that is very ripe, half an orange, etc.    Put all the soon to go bad fruits in your blender and you’ll quickly have a delicious drink.

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Weekly Round Up

Happy weekend everyone!  It’s Saturday evening and I’m soon going to retire to watch the Knicks/Pacers game, eat pepperoni and mushroom pizza and change into my pajamas.   Who doesn’t like comfy Saturday nights?   

The last few days Matthew and I have been preparing the garden.   Home Depot and Miracle Gro are back visiting our roof garden this weekend to make more Gardeniere videos.  The entire crew is so great to work with, they really make me feel at ease, especially when I have to 9 takes because I can’t remember the word “home center”.   This time around we are doing more how to videos for urban gardeners who don’t have a backyard to grow in, this mean lots of tips on container and bucket gardening!    It’s really fun to show everyone around the garden and talk about what’s growing and how anyone can grow – no matter if you have a farm, yard, rooftop or fire escape.   

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Later in the afternoon, it began raining, but rain does not start gardening!  So we trekked on.  I’m sorry in advance if I look like a wet puppy.

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I was also spoiled with some Earl Gray.  It made a early Saturday morning that I’m usually asleep much better!

Food Network Magazine
Also check it out, I’m in Food Network Magazine.  What a surprise!

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To prepare for this shoot we had to stock up on some Miracle Gro potting mix.  We’ve been using this stuff for years, potting mix is the only way to go for container gardening.

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Then I had to stop by Gowanus Nursery.  What a great place, it was my first time there. I picked up some strawberry plants and salad green mix.

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There was also a dinosaur there which makes this place even cooler.

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Now comes the hard work, but first a picture of me in the back up of a parked pick up truck because I’ve never climbed into a back of a pickup truck.  Ever.

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Very heavy bags of potting mix get carried from the truck down a few stairs to the freight elevator.  This all needs to be done by hand.  Then it goes up the freight elevator to the 5th floor.  Then it gets pushed and carried down the longest hallway.    Then there’s stairs, 2 flights of them.  That means you lift one bag at a time. This is not a job for the weak.  Just a job for the crazy.

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Then Matthew, my strong man, carries them all up.  At the top of the stairs I am waiting with a little dolly.

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With 3 or 4 bags at a time, I push them with all my strength across the roof.   This might look easy, but it’s not.  There’s no handle on the dolly, so I push a small cart with my hands on a bag.  This dolly is close to maximum weight so it’s so hard to push. The amount of times that a bag falls off, the cart tips over, or I sit on the ground and cry is alot.

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Finally when we get them all over, I take a nap.  I hate manual labor.

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So now we prepare the boxes to get them all camera ready. 

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The supplies of my life.  I can’t wait to show you all the videos we’ve been making!

 In other garden news:
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We are hardening off the cucumbers, watermelon and pumpkin seedlings which will be transplanted to their containers in a few days!

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We spotted the first broccoli head, omg yes!! HUGS! LOVE! GREAT!!

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Added another Rhododendron to the family because I’m absolutely in love with them.  Now we have pink, white and red.  It’s my dream come true!

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The white one starts pink, turn into white. How beautiful!

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Such dramatic light fell over this flower.

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We put up 2 big fences for the green beans to climb up.

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Picked lettuce and spinach for the first time of the season.  Ate it and swooned, so crisp and delicious!

In food news:
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Picked some lettuce and cilantro and put it into a black bean, avocado salad for dinner.  This is such a simple meal, but it’s so good.

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Been back on a peanut butter and jelly kick.  We usually snack on these late in the afternoon while sitting in the shade to take a break from gardening.  

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We also treated ourselves to ice cream.  Matthew got cookie dough, and I got chocolate and vanilla soft serve.  We put in the freezer, got  a shower, grabbed our ice cream and ate it in bed.  Bofinkles helped me eat it.  This was such a treat after a day full of sun headaches.

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We’ve had cheeseburgers 3 times this week and I’ve loved every single time.  Matthew is a champion at making burgers, he does the meat seasoning so good.  Also, check out those fries.  Did you know ARBY’s sells their curly fries at supermarkets? I was shocked and thrilled.  If you love ARBY’s fries you will not be disappointed by these, they were great.

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Had a needed work brainstorming meeting at one of our favorite Chinese restaurants, Kum Kau.  This giant bowl of pork, cabbage, noodle soup was only $5.50. And you get free unlimited crispy noodles! And their homemade best in the world duck sauce! And tea!  I  love that place.

In cat news:
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Essy fell asleep so hard. I watched her from the minute she started to drift,  to her head going lower and lower and lower, until it bounced off the desk.  She didn’t wake up.

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Bofinkles also passed out.  Against a wall.  She was out.

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When she finally woke up, she looked at me and yawned.  Then she went back to sleep.

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I told Xanadu many times how much I love her.

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She’s just my girl.  My very curious, intelligent, trouble maker girl.

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We got a ROOMBA (best thing ever), cats were fascinated by it for the first few days.  Days later, they don’t seem to care about it.  

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Everyone was more fascinated by the box.  Boxes are super cool to cats.

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Brother Bear showed up to the box party, laid on it and caved it in.  And we loved him because of it.  He is perfect.

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Bofinkles tanned.  I tried to get her to look but as soon as I said her name, she hopped up, ran to the camera and smothered me in  kisses.

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The cats got me a Mothers Day balloon. 🙂

In other news that I don’t know where it fits:
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These are my favorite sunglasses.  I got a pair in Disney World in 2011 and in 2012 they broke during the summer. I was devastated.  My friend Erin was in Disney World a few weeks ago and shipped me a new pair.  Erin is the best.  I love these glasses!

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We cleaned up some of our props in the loft.   The last few years we have accumulated many props but it’s hard to get rid of them.  Each one tells a story, makes us remember a time.  Sadly though our props aren’t usually small and we’re running out of prop space.   Some of these in this picture were thrown away, and by thrown away I mean put by the trash can where almost always someone in our apartment building saves them and gives it a few more months of fun.

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Goodnight moon.

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Here’s to happy weekends!  Hope you are having a great one, are you doing anything fun?

 

Vertical Growing Green Beans

ZZZzzzZZzZzzz.. That’s how I feel right now.  We’ve been doing so much garden work that my arms are barely able to lift my tea cup up to my mouth.    My arms are itching all the way down to my fingers due to getting some sun (even after making sure to apply a high SPF specially made for us ghostly creatures).   And my mind, well my mind just wants some mashed potatoes and sleep. And ice cream.  

Last Fall during the morning before Hurricane Sandy arrived, we ran up to the roof and quickly ripped out our vertical fences (along with our beautiful Sugar Snaps that were so close to start producing peas *cry cry*).   We did it quickly.  I was crying, both scared from wind and because of having to kill my sugar snap peas.    So with the fences down, we had to re-construct them, but this year we wanted them even stronger.  Instead of just putting up poles and a fence, Matthew created a rectangular structure that supports the fence in multiple spots.  One day in and we can already tell it’s going to withstand wind gusts (we get high ones up on the roof) much better. 

Lots of friends always talk about gardening on their roof, but they aren’t sure how to grow vertically as there’s no natural fence, wall, or tree to help assist plants that want to grow high.  You need to be crafty.  You need to be extra safe, the last thing you want to think about is your structure blowing off the roof.   It’s not that expensive to get some PVC pipe and wire fencing.   

To get a idea of how tall peas and beans can grow in a garden, these fences are 10 feet high from last year where our sugar snaps grew:
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And to get a idea of how windy it can get 6 floors up, this is before Hurricane Sandy hit.

 Crazy, right?

So this year we set out to build a stronger and more secure fencing structure.

Supplies:
6 – 1″ PVC x 10ft
4 – 1″ PVC 90′ Elbows
4 – 1″ PVC Tees
PVC Glue
4 – 2.5″ x 1/4″ Bolts + Lock Nuts
16 – 4″ x 5/16″ Bolts + Lock Nuts
32 5/16″ Washers 
10′ x 4′ Roll of Chicken Wire
8″ Zip Ties

Tools:
drill
screwdriver
ratchet
hacksaw
adjustable wrench
safety glasses

So let’s first by talking about Home Depot.  How do men love that entire place so much? I love the garden section.  I love the appliance section.  I even like the hangers section.  But have you ever been dragged to the piping section? Or worse, much much worse, the screws and nails aisle.  It’s a bunch of guys with giddy stars in their eyes, skipping from screw bin to screw bin, hands full of nuts and bolts.  Matthew has to drag me kicking and screaming down those aisles, which noone seems to notice.  Sometimes I meet eyes with another female and we connect on the bond that we both are thinking of ways to escape.    I’m sure there are females who love the screws and nails aisle, but I’ve yet to meet one.

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We had to buy PVC elbows and tees.  My term for them is usually “the white things we put together”.  I’m very good with building terminology.  Matthew had to strategically put them on the ground like this to plan.  Then he told me to stay there with them while he went to another aisle.  So for the next 10 minutes I stood in front of them, anxiously, while people walked by at the poor girl who felt out of place.  I kept thinking in my head “Please noone ask me what I am guarding on the floor”.  Noone did.  Whew, close one.

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When we got home we put together PVC pipes with the elbows and tees.  These rectangular structures would be the top of the fence.  Having 4 sides will make the fences much more sturdy.

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Eventually the 10 foot tall PVC pipes will be bolted into these tees.

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There’s alot of measuring and mathematics.   Anyone else scared of math?

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And after the math, there’s alot of sawing.

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To attach the PVC pipes we use PVC glue.

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It dries very very quick.  So as soon as you swab it on, you have a few seconds to put your pieces together.

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Ok, great, both were built.  Now we have to make them 10 feet tall.

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The long 10 foot PVC pipes get bolted in.

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You have to use a ratchet for this.   Amount of times I’ve called this tool a hatchet?  Many.  Matthew loves his ratchet.  Every time he uses it he shows me how to use it, forgetting we have done this exercise multiple times.  I let him go through the procedure though, I know he gets a kick out of it.

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Ok, it’s built.  Now we have to flip it upside down.

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I held it into place while Matthew bolted it into the 4×4 wood boxes.  But first, take a picture of me because I feel so strong.

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Bolted in.  Be careful if you have plants growing around this area.

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One in place…

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Both in place.

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Now comes the fencing! To attach this you need zip ties.  Time out:  They have neon rainbow zip ties at Home Depot!  I know, how exciting.  After spending 5 hours in the nuts aisle, Matthew let me talk him into getting colorful zip ties instead of the regular white ones.  I told him I deserved it.

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This part is a 2 person job.  One person holds the wire fence and rolls it out as we go along while the other zip ties it to the PVC pipe.

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You do it in little sections, don’t be afraid to attach too many zip ties.  Get it tight and straight. 

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And you go higher and higher..

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All the way to the top.

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This is a job for people who are brave.  This is not a job for me.  I will stay on the ground and take pictures thank you very much.

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We always grow 2 rows of peas or beans so the fence goes in between them.  That way they can grow up both sides of the fence.

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Then encourage them to grow tall! Once they see the fence in front of them they will get big dreams.  Be prepared! 🙂

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Finally both fences were up.  We were exhausted.  

A few special thanks you:

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Thank you to my almonds and dried pineapple. I wouldn’t have made it through the day without you.

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Thank you to the beautiful NYC sunsets.  It’s pretty special to be putting up a bean fence, look over and see the World Trade Center as the sun goes down.

Slow Cooker Pot Roast

MELT in your MOUTH Slow Cooker Pot Roast!  This Crockpot recipe is the best and is so easy to make!  Add your roast, cream of mushroom soup, beef soup mix and vegetables to the slow cooker and dinner will be ready in 7 hours! This beef roast is my husband’s favorite meal, and our family loves the leftovers! 

A few weeks ago Matthew turned 30 and because it was his birthday I asked him to pick out any meal he wanted.  We could go somewhere, I could travel to South Brooklyn and bring back some of the best pizza in the world, we could take out – the choice was his.  What did he decide?  Homemade slow cooked pot roast.  This is a recipe that I have been making for a while now but we don’t have it that often.  Every time we have it, we both swoon at the dinner table discussing how moist and soft the meat is.  It just falls apart! It’s like magic.  And the gravy that it creates while sitting in the crockpot all day, oh my.    So I made it for his birthday and then we both sat at the dinner table, forks in hand, eyes closed, pot roast in mouth….. What a birthday dinner!

I love meals that you can throw in your crockpot, let sit all day, then you come back and somehow it transforms into one of the best meals.   You can customize this meal with vegetables on the side that you throw in the crockpot as well.  I prefer carrots and celery, but this time I threw in mushrooms as well which might have been the best idea I had all week.  If you aren’t having mashed potatoes on the side, throw in some cut up potatoes in the crockpot too!

 If you are cooking for a couple people (2 or 3) this recipe will easily last you a few meals.  We often have this 3x in a row using the leftovers for roast beef sandwiches which are equally delicious.

Might I recommend you serve creamy mashed potatoes on the side?  Please do! 

MELT in your MOUTH Slow Cooker Pot Roast!  This Crockpot recipe is the best and is so easy to make!  Add your roast, cream of mushroom soup, beef soup mix and vegetables to the slow cooker and dinner will be ready in 7 hours! This beef roast is my husband's favorite meal, and our family loves the leftovers!

MELT in your MOUTH Slow Cooker Pot Roast!  This Crockpot recipe is the best and is so easy to make!  Add your roast, cream of mushroom soup, beef soup mix and vegetables to the slow cooker and dinner will be ready in 7 hours! This beef roast is my husband's favorite meal, and our family loves the leftovers!

Slow Cooker Pot Roast

Ingredients

  • 3.5 pound pot roast
  • 2 cans of condensed cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 package dry onion beef soup mix
  • 3/4 cup water
  • flour and rosemary to cover
  • chopped vegetables of your choice

Instructions

  1. Cover pot roast in light flour and then add a pinch of rosemary on all sides.
  2. Pan fry pot roast until it’s a light brown.
  3. In a slow cooker, mix mushroom soup, dry onion mix and water together.
  4. Add pot roast into slow cooker and cover with soup mixture.
  5. Cook on high for 3 hours.
  6. Change temperature and cook on low for 4.5 hours.
  7. Add your vegetables to the slow cooker 3 hours before it’s done. I recommend potatoes, onions, carrots, celery and mushrooms *See note for mushrooms*
  8. Enjoy!

Recipe Notes

If you are using mushrooms, only add them when there is 30 minutes left.
In a hurry? Cook on high for 4.5 hours.

A melt in your mouth Slow Cooker Pot Roast recipe. Throw vegetables in at the end and you have a complete meal. This is perfect for Sunday dinner or holidays!
Here’s all your pot roast ingredients, nothing too fancy here.

 A melt in your mouth Slow Cooker Pot Roast recipe. Throw vegetables in at the end and you have a complete meal. This is perfect for Sunday dinner or holidays!
Before we put it in the crockpot we are going to pan fry it.   Lightly dust it with some flour.

A melt in your mouth Slow Cooker Pot Roast recipe. Throw vegetables in at the end and you have a complete meal. This is perfect for Sunday dinner or holidays!
Then put some dried rosemary on top.  By pan frying it first we are going to lock in all the flavors and yummy juices that we want.

A melt in your mouth Slow Cooker Pot Roast recipe. Throw vegetables in at the end and you have a complete meal. This is perfect for Sunday dinner or holidays!
So throw it in a pan and cook until all sides are lightly browned.

A melt in your mouth Slow Cooker Pot Roast recipe. Throw vegetables in at the end and you have a complete meal. This is perfect for Sunday dinner or holidays!
Keep flipping every single side.

A melt in your mouth Slow Cooker Pot Roast recipe. Throw vegetables in at the end and you have a complete meal. This is perfect for Sunday dinner or holidays!
Even right side up!

A melt in your mouth Slow Cooker Pot Roast recipe. Throw vegetables in at the end and you have a complete meal. This is perfect for Sunday dinner or holidays!
The smell of rosemary through your house is worth the extra work to pan fry it first.

While it’s browning, prepare your other ingredients in your crockpot (or slow cooker as you might call it).

A melt in your mouth Slow Cooker Pot Roast recipe. Throw vegetables in at the end and you have a complete meal. This is perfect for Sunday dinner or holidays!
Add in your cream of mushroom soup, beef onion mix and water.

A melt in your mouth Slow Cooker Pot Roast recipe. Throw vegetables in at the end and you have a complete meal. This is perfect for Sunday dinner or holidays!
Then stir it all around.

A melt in your mouth Slow Cooker Pot Roast recipe. Throw vegetables in at the end and you have a complete meal. This is perfect for Sunday dinner or holidays!
Once your pot roast is all browned (and beautiful might I add)..

A melt in your mouth Slow Cooker Pot Roast recipe. Throw vegetables in at the end and you have a complete meal. This is perfect for Sunday dinner or holidays!
Then carefully transfer it to your crockpot.  There lower it in.  During this step I’m always 100% sure I am going to drop it on the ground. 

A melt in your mouth Slow Cooker Pot Roast recipe. Throw vegetables in at the end and you have a complete meal. This is perfect for Sunday dinner or holidays!
Then cover it with your wet ingredients.  Make sure to completely cover the roast. 

A melt in your mouth Slow Cooker Pot Roast recipe. Throw vegetables in at the end and you have a complete meal. This is perfect for Sunday dinner or holidays!
Then put on high for 3 hours.

A melt in your mouth Slow Cooker Pot Roast recipe. Throw vegetables in at the end and you have a complete meal. This is perfect for Sunday dinner or holidays!
Once 3 hours is up, then turn it on low for 4.5 more hours.  You can see after 3 hours how nicely it’s looking with the soup mixture you added.  The smell too! 

A melt in your mouth Slow Cooker Pot Roast recipe. Throw vegetables in at the end and you have a complete meal. This is perfect for Sunday dinner or holidays!
Add your vegetables in 3 hours before it’s done.  Add in carrots, celery, potatoes, onions – whatever you want.  Note: If you are adding mushrooms, only add them 30 minutes before it’s done completely.

And when it’s done….

A melt in your mouth Slow Cooker Pot Roast recipe. Throw vegetables in at the end and you have a complete meal. This is perfect for Sunday dinner or holidays!
Just take a minute and admire the masterpiece of your slow cooked pot roast.

A melt in your mouth Slow Cooker Pot Roast recipe. Throw vegetables in at the end and you have a complete meal. This is perfect for Sunday dinner or holidays!
Bask in the beauty of this roast.

A melt in your mouth Slow Cooker Pot Roast recipe. Throw vegetables in at the end and you have a complete meal. This is perfect for Sunday dinner or holidays!
And those vegetables, how pretty are they? Especially those mushrooms.

A melt in your mouth Slow Cooker Pot Roast recipe. Throw vegetables in at the end and you have a complete meal. This is perfect for Sunday dinner or holidays!
This roast is a keeper.

A melt in your mouth Slow Cooker Pot Roast recipe. Throw vegetables in at the end and you have a complete meal. This is perfect for Sunday dinner or holidays!
And when you slice through it, it will be like cutting butter.

A melt in your mouth Slow Cooker Pot Roast recipe. Throw vegetables in at the end and you have a complete meal. This is perfect for Sunday dinner or holidays!
The meat falls apart in a moment of glory.

A melt in your mouth Slow Cooker Pot Roast recipe. Throw vegetables in at the end and you have a complete meal. This is perfect for Sunday dinner or holidays!
The meat is moist and has so much flavor due to the slow cooking.

A melt in your mouth Slow Cooker Pot Roast recipe. Throw vegetables in at the end and you have a complete meal. This is perfect for Sunday dinner or holidays!
Enjoy your dinner!

MELT in your MOUTH Slow Cooker Pot Roast!  This Crockpot recipe is the best and is so easy to make!  Add your roast, cream of mushroom soup, beef soup mix and vegetables to the slow cooker and dinner will be ready in 7 hours! This beef roast is my husband's favorite meal, and our family loves the leftovers!

Sugar Snap Pea Update

Sugar Snap Peas – don’t you love them?  Sugar Snap peas with some noodles easily becomes a favorite lunch or dinner for us in the summer just because there’s nothing than picking your Snap Peas and minutes later crunching away.  

 In late March we planted the Sugar Snap Pea seeds – so how are they doing?  Let’s check in!

On April 22 all the Sugar Snaps rose… 
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The problem with this is that they all sprouted.  We plant multiple seeds in each hole just in case one seed doesn’t work out.  But when they all sprout, we have to kill some off.  It’s heart breaking.

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So we go one by one and pick the strongest looking one.  The weaker one gets cut.   I can never do this part. I look away and cry quietly.

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I make Matthew do this.

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And when we have all the Sugar Snap Peas that would have grown big and strong, I bury them. But not before saying a few sad words. And crying more.  I WILL LOVE YOU FOREVER.

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By doing this, we assure that the 2 pea plants won’t fight for root space choking themselves out.  Now there is just one per hole, to grow big and strong in their own space.

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Then we put up wire fencing and sticks for the Sugar Snap Peas to grow up.  We do this early because they will begin growing quickly and need something to latch on to.

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We also like to throw some other greens like spinach (pictured middle) and lettuce (pictured center left) in the box.  

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We also will put wind blocker fabric up to  make sure the plants won’t blow over  as they are still in the small stages.

3 weeks later  to the day – May 13!

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Holy Moly! I will give a few minutes to scroll up and compare these 2 pictures.  What a difference 3 weeks makes.

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Their tendrils have latched on and climbed up the fence rather quickly.

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Isn’t it amazing how they climb? We help them out some in the beginning by wrapping them around slightly, but once they found their way they just do it.  

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And they just  keep climbing, hooking, climbing, hooking, twirling, climbing, hooking.  In some order like that.

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Even if they see a piece of rope they will grab on.  They are wild like that.

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As they start to get taller we help support them by wrapping little pieces of Velcro around them.  We tend to to do this with any vertical plant in the garden.  It helps incredibly with wind gusts.

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It’s pretty magical to watch the Sugar Snaps grow.  They are one of my favorites in the garden.  Just don’t tell the green beans, there will be a battle.

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Want another crazy comparison? Go up and look at the spinach previously, now look at it. I know!

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Do the same for the lettuce.  I know!

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So now the Sugar Snaps continue their journey into new great heights.  They will grow further up the trellis where eventually I will have to stand on a crate to reach them.  The next Sugar Snap update hopefully will be full of harvest.. stay tuned!

 

Creamy Mashed Potatoes

This is my go to, make you weak in the knees, mashed potatoes recipe.  I started making these a few years ago when I wanted to try a new mashed potatoes recipe for Thanksgiving.  I made them and all our dinner guests gave rave reviews, making these the must have for holiday dinners.  

I believe this recipe is unique for a few reasons:
-There is cream cheese involved.  In my younger days, cream cheese wasn’t commonly used in our mashed potatoes.  Now I have to say I don’t like cream cheese by itself, it scares me, but I love these mashed potatoes.  Go figure.
-There is no hand mixer involved in these potatoes.  What?  There is no hand mixer involved in these potatoes.  Seriously.  How do they get so creamy then?  Next point..
-You boil these potatoes for a pretty long time until they’re almost ready to fall apart.  This makes a hand mixer not necessary, as just a spoon and a potato masher makes them blended pretty quickly.
-You can make these ahead of time, no problem.  For holidays I usually make these the night before so the actual holiday cooking is a little more relaxed.  I just throw them in the oven 30 minutes before we’re ready to eat.  

If you are looking for a mashed potatoes recipe to try, please give these a chance.  They make me very happy.

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Creamy Mashed Potatoes

Ingredients

  • 2.5 pounds Russet Potatoes half a bag
  • 1/2 cup butter + few slices on top
  • 3 oz. cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup Half-and-Half
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • fresh or dried parsley to garnish

Instructions

  1. Peel potatoes and then cut them up into about equal sizes.
  2. Bring a pot of water to a boil and add your potatoes. Keep boiling and cook these for 30 minutes. They’re going to be so soft your fork will just slide into them.
  3. Drain the potatoes.
  4. Put your potatoes that you drained back into the pot and put back on the burner, low heat. You are now going to just mash them with a spoon or potato masher.
  5. Add your butter, cream cheese and half-and-half.
  6. Mix and whip these until creamy.
  7. Add in your salt and pepper, mix more.
  8. Put your potatoes in a oven safe baking dish.
  9. Add a few slices of butter on top of the potatoes.
  10. Put foil on top and bake for 25 minutes at 350.
  11. Add fresh or dried parsley to garnish before serving.

Recipe Notes

If you want to make them the night before, put foil on top and store in refrigerator. Take them out of the fridge 2 hours before baking to bring them to room temperature. Continue then baking for 25 minutes at 350 (or until completely hot in the middle).

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You will use half a bag of potatoes for this recipe.  If you are having  a large dinner, duplicate the entire recipe and use a whole 5 pound bag.

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One of the worst things in my life: peeling potatoes.  Agh, I never look forward to this.

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Compost the peels if you can!

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Then we cut them up into similar size pieces.  This will assure everything is cooked about the same with equal softness.

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Pretty potatoes.

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Now boil for 30 minutes.  Turn your oven a little down if it starts to spit water at you.  I know 30 minutes seems like a while, but we want to get these potatoes soft.

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So soft that a fork will just slide through..

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Drain, then put back onto your burner on low.  Take a potato masher or spoon and break the potatoes up.  Because they were cooked so long they should fall apart pretty easily.

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No mixer, just a potato masher.  Look how soft they are already!

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Add your butter, cream cheese and half-and-half.

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Now stir, stir, stir.

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Look at the creaminess already.. Oh my!

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Add salt and pepper.

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Stir more.  How beautiful they are!

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Put them into a baking dish.

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Put a few slices of butter on top.  Why not, you know?  YOLO.  Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes.

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These glorious potatoes will come out of your oven.  Garnish with fresh or dried (what I used) parsley.  

Serve and enjoy!

 

Weekly Round Up

Happy Friday everyone!

Doesn’t the week go by so quick sometimes?  One day it’s Monday and I’m yawning, then the next thing I know it’s almost the weekend full of hopeful walks in the park, pancakes in the morning and  lazy evenings.  Every week doesn’t go so smooth, but this week sure felt quick!  How was yours?

I found this great link of 56 things to do instead of spending money.  I’m really feeling the ideas for:
Get Organized! I have a whole cabinet shelf full of tupperware that must be straightened out.  I need some type of system here that works out.
Use Those Gift Certificates! We have one that is almost a year old now, we need to get to the store and use it.
Spa Day At Home! Soak those feet! You deserve it!
Make Gifts! Make someone smile, it’s the best feeling in the world.
Clean! Must be done, usually not fun.
Catch Up On Your Reading! I have had Marie Antoinette’s biography for a few months that I keep renewing from the library. I was 75% into the book but then I stopped. I have to finish it!
Make Cookies! Of course.
Start a Happy Book! This for me means scrapbooking.  I need to dive back into this dangerous world.
Hike! We are planning a hiking adventure soon.

In recipes I made this week and shared with you:
Gingerbread Popcorn – easy to make, healthy and yummy!
Peanut Butter Pretzel Chocolate Chip Granola Bars – hands down, one of the best things I ever made!

In recipes that I saved to hopefully make soon:
I started to use Pinterest (again) to organize all my recipes.  I found a great app for my Windows Phone so I can easily open up Pinterest in the grocery store and have all  my recipe lists.
Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookie Dough Overnight Oats – looking forward to try this for breakfast soon.
Lime Cake Doughnuts with Chocolate Glaze – need I say more?
Easy Cinnamon Rolls – really… come on.. look at this magic!
Roasted Red Pepper Parmesan Baked Eggs – look how good this looks!
Prosciutto and Arugula Pizza with Sunny Side Up Egg – thinking of adding ricotta too…
Mexican Pizza – I got all the ingredients for this, probably will be made this weekend.

Things I ask you:
What’s your favorite pizza topping?
Do you have any fun plans this weekend?
What do you do when you are feeling guilty from eating too many sweets?

Garden News:
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It is very close to being able to pick lettuce, spinach and kale.  Starting the next week we will start picking harvest for yummy lunches, dinners and snacks.    I couldn’t help myself so I picked a small amount of buttercrunch lettuce earlier this week.  Man, it’s so good.

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I love seeing all the green appear in the garden!

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We’ve had 2 big days of rain which is great because we were going on 3 weeks with no rain.  The garden did well with the first storms, it actually really enjoyed them and seemed to grow stronger.  Especially that kale, watch out for it.

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Massive leaves on the Brussels Sprouts plants.  This is the first year growing them… very excited to see how it turns out.

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Giant broccoli leaves!

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We spent some time this week getting our compost situation back in order.  We were able to get a few bags of cocoa  husks.  I’ll do a full post on this next week.  Just think about how 200 pounds of cocoa husks smell….mmmmmmm.

House Updates:
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We finally mounted the tv to the wall.  It’s been sitting on our farmhouse table for months.   Also the “FAMILY” portrait series on the wall is growing.  

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I desperately want this chair from a furniture store in Soho.  It’s even on sale! If by sale you mean $10,000.  I’ll just dream about it..

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Love how the light makes my desk area look purple ombre. 

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Game of Thrones fans?  My lovely friend Jessie surprised me with this Jon Snow doll in the mail.  He now lives on my desk so we can talk to each other all day  long.

NYC Update:
Long Walk For Shoes 5/4/2013
We love taking long walks.  You can usually find us walking somewhere (or Matthew biking) instead of taking the subway if possible.  This past weekend we took a big walk from our home to Soho.  There we bought some sneakers and then walked back.  One of my favorite parts of New York is the ability to walk almost anywhere.

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These are the shoes we bought.  They’re both from the Adidas store.  Mine were 30% off!  *High Five*  I love the zipper in the middle, such a unique twist on a sneaker.

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It rained, Manhattan was barely visible from our rooftop.

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Birds flew…

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You can see One World Trade Center pretty clearly with some binoculars from our apartment.  Here you can see the Spire was raised and is now on top…

Meowza Update:
Or as I like to call it, the loves of my life update:
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FiFi Bofinkles passes out in front of me.

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FiFi Bofinkles sleeping.

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Waking up to FiFi Bofinkles in the morning looks like this. 

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Xanadu being the queen on her pizza pillow throne.

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FiFi Bofinkles questioning her position while Xanadu looks down at her.

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Brother’s tail is furry too.

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Brother Bear’s favorite spot to lay is in my underwear drawer (TMI?).  As soon as I open it up, he runs full speed (as fast as a big guy can run and jump) and dives in.  He loves it there.  Why?

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I worked out while Brother took a nap in front of me.  Not fair.

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This is the cat at our local pet store, her name is Lilly and she’s huge.    Often they have bags of cat food 50% off because Lilly decided to try to open them up with her teeth.  She’s a good girl though and is extra sweet.  Everytime I go in the store I look for her first.   Then she gives me her belly.

Food Update:
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Chia seed brownies? Yes, please.  Going to try to figure out the recipe for these for a future share…

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Matthew had a belated surprise party!  I told him it was just 2 friends then he walked out and everyone was there.  It was great seeing him light up.

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The Calamari Fritti was delicious!

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This was Mediterranean octopus  which was char-grilled.  It was my first time eating octopus and I found it good, especially since it was grilled and crispy on the outside.  The inside was very chewy, but still enjoyable.

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Pepperoni and mushroom pizza are always our go to’s.  The surprise party was at Lisola’s in Williamsburg Brooklyn.  I would highly recommend it, the service was so good too.  The pizza is made in wood fired ovens, which is always the way to go with pizza.

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Prosciutto is my favorite topping on pizza.

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And then I ate a cannoli.  It was one of the best I ever had.  I actually ate 2, I’m a bad girl. They even had chocolate chips inside.  Oh my! I loved the restaurant because the entire balcony is filled with herbs that they pick and use on the dishes.   This always makes me so happy to see.


Matthew got a piece of cheese cake because he was the birthday boy. 🙂

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During the week Matthew made some buttered noodles with steamed broccoli.  I added in cherry tomatoes and some fresh garden lettuce.   This was so simple but so yummy.

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Lately I’ve been craving fruits and lots of it.  This was my breakfast one morning.

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I also made a pineapple, strawberry, apple, ginger ale smoothie.  This was also great.  For my smoothies I pretty much mix anything I have that is a sweet fruit and it turns out wonderful.

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I bought these tortilla chips based on the character on the bag.

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Almonds are also a current weakness.  These are cinnamon sugar almonds, I have a hard time not coming back for seconds or thirds.

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We met a friend in town from London at Pinche Taqueria.  

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I had a wonderful tortilla soup and a steak taco.  The tortilla soup still didn’t beat my favorite recipe, but this was unique as it had more of a bbq taste to it.  

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She brought us delicious Cadbury chocolate from London.  When we got home we ate some Crunchie bits while laying in bed.  I almost ate  a bar for breakfast but I held back.  I will wait for later in the day. 🙂

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We met another friend in Soho that we haven’t seen in quite a while.  We went to Cafe Select and our waiter was a bit uppity.  When he gave me my change he totally didn’t give me back any of the coin change (it was 40 cents, not like 1 penny).  It’s like he took my amount due and rounded up to the nearest dollar.  Who does that?  Anyways, I had some earl gray tea.

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And we split a warm apple strudel  with glazed caramel sauce that had whipped cream, strawberries and ice cream.  For the hefty price of $8 it was pretty big.

 Fashion:
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I like to wear cat print anything, including denim dresses that make me look like a first grade teacher (or first grader).

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I got bored with  nail polish..

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So I came up with this dot/sparkle/pastel combination.

Work:
Sunday night, calibrating RGBD, then on to Game of Thrones.
On the work front we have been experimenting a bunch with new technology.    This past week has been a good week to regroup after finishing a bunch of projects.  It’s a time to breathe, experiment and see where the next projects will lead.


This is a new project we just released for V fashion magazine.  It went live this week and we’re super proud of it.  You can see the entire project here

 

 Happy Weekend everyone!! Have a great one!

Peanut Butter Pretzel Chocolate Chip Granola Bars

These Homemade Peanut Butter Pretzel Chocolate Chip Granola Bars are about to become your new favorite breakfast, snack and dessert!  This is a healthy copycat recipe for Quaker Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Granola Bars.

Peanut Butter Pretzel Chocolate Chip Granola Bars.  Are there any words more beautiful?

After I made the first batch of chocolate chip granola bars, my mind started to wonder to the wonderful world of peanut butter.  Soon later it floated to the island of pretzels.  There peanut butter pretzel chocolate chip granola bars was born.

 About these delightful bars:

Do you enjoy chocolate + salty at the same? I do!  These are for you.
Do you like a bit of crunch in your granola bars? I do!  These are for you.
These are dangerous to have around your house.  Proceed with caution.
I don’t listen to my own advise and made multiple batches.   We annihilated these batches.
I have given these to friends as a “hey you are pretty cool” gift.  Friends swoon.
After the first time I made them I declared “These might be the best thing I ever made”.  

 So now I present you.. the future love of your life that will always be there for you, Peanut Butter Pretzel Chocolate Chip Granola Bars.

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 Is there a better afternoon snack than this?
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Peanut Butter Pretzel Chocolate Chip Granola Bars

Ingredients

  • 2 cups quick cooking oats
  • 1/2 cup crispy rice cereal
  • 3/4 cup chopped pretzels
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/3 cup mini chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Spray a 8x8 pan lightly with cooking spray.
  2. Mix your oats and cereal together in a large bowl.
  3. Chop your pretzels up and mix with oats and cereal.
  4. In a small saucepan melt butter, brown sugar, honey and peanut butter on medium high heat until melted. Once it begins to bubble change heat to low and stir for 2 minutes.
  5. Remove saucepan from burner and stir in your vanilla.
  6. Pour your hot mixture over your oats mixture. Stir well. You want to make sure every single piece of oats and cereal is coated.
  7. Pour your mixture into your greased pan and push down with spatula to flatten it.
  8. Sprinkle chocolate chips over top evenly. Use your spatula to press them down so they are embedded in the bars.
  9. Cover with plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator to set for 1 hour.
  10. Cut into granola bar sizes.
  11. Enjoy!

Recipe Notes

If you would like to make a larger batch, use a 9x13 pan and double everything, except use 3/4 cup mini chocolate chips.
Store these in the fridge.

Adapted from Rachael Ray

 

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Here’s all the ingredients you need!  Note: When I use peanut butter in recipes like this I usually get the cheap stuff and don’t use my gourmet peanut butter cinnamon swirl magic that I usually eat on bread.  The cheap stuff does the job for these, very well!

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Do you love pretzels as much as I do?

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We need these chopped though, so I put them in a baggie and get a potato masher and just take out all my frustration on these poor pretzels.

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Add your pretzels with your quick oats and cereal.

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And give it a good stir to mix everything around.

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Now we create the delicious peanut butter cream.  When  making this unicorns will arrive at your home, sparkles will fall, the clouds will open, rainbows appear.  I’m not kidding. This creates magic.

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Take this magical peanut butter mixture and add it to your oats/pretzels/cereal.

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Now mix, mix, mix, mix.  Nope, still not done, mix it more.  Make sure every single piece of oat, cereal and pretzel is sticky.  This is going to hold everything together.  Think of it as a glue that you can eat.

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Then put it in your pan and pat it down with a spatula so it’s flat.

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Add your chocolate chips and push them down too.  You want them inserted in the granola mixture.

Now you throw them in the fridge for 1 hour while walking around anxiously whispering “hurry up, hurry up, hurry up”.  You can even lay in the middle of the floor and whisper this.

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And when they’re ready, HOLY MOLY.

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Cut them into granola bar sizes, or squares if you’d like.

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While cutting the bars I smile nonstop.

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I also smile inside because my belly is waiting for this..

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The granola bars are firm and hardly crumble at all.

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When you flip it upside down you will see there’s good pretzel distribution as well.

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These granola bars are hard to just eat one.  I’m warning you.

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I wrapped some up and gave to friends.  Friends will have a hard time just eating one at a time.  Warn them!

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And then 2 days later I made a double 9×13 batch because I like to live life on the wild side and can’t get enough of these!

Give these granola bars a chance, I think you will love them. 

These Homemade Peanut Butter Pretzel Chocolate Chip Granola Bars are about to become your new favorite breakfast, snack and dessert!  This is a healthy copycat recipe for Quaker Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Granola Bars.

For The Love of Pineapple

Do you love pineapple? I do.  Pineapple is beautiful and delicious, the 2 best qualities in food.     I got this gorgeous pineapple from my local grocery store for only $2.50.  It’s enormous! My arms tired carrying it home.

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But then after I bring it home, I always fall into the question “What should I do with it?”

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So you cut off the top and admire the beauty.  (Note:  We were going to plant the pineapple top but I cut  too high, oops.)

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Then you cut it into slices.  Your fingers are sticky, the pineapple aroma is building.  But what are you going to do with it?  

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One solution that I usually always fall for is just eating pineapple by the slice.   Nothing else.  Just plain ol great pineapple slices.  

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The other solution is cubed pineapple with a little bit of shredded coconut on top.

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MMMMM!

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For breakfast I like to add some blueberry granola, shredded coconut and dried apples to it.  This breakfast is super filling!

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My other favorite pineapple use is blended up. I throw some chunks in the blender with 1/2 half an apple (cut up) and about 1/4 cup of orange juice.  Blend until smooth.  You can even throw some mint on top.  I love this drink for a mid afternoon pick me up!

How do you like to use pineapple?
Anyone have any great pineapple recipes? If so, please share them in the comments, I need ideas!

 

Planting The Tomatoes

About a week and a half ago we transplanted our tomato seedlings to their summertime home, the roof.  Tomatoes for us are the keepers of the garden.  If it’s a good tomato season, then it’s a good garden season.  If there’s tomato issues, then we get sad and cry every single day.    The last few years we’ve had incredible success with the tomatoes, where there is a few weeks in July/August where we are throwing 5-10 pounds of tomatoes in a bowl every single day.  Last year it got so hectic I would sit on the floor, surrounded by my 100 tomatoes just staring at them in panic (and in awe).  With that many tomatoes, I took some time every single day to freeze sauces, diced tomatoes, stewed tomatoes and tomato juice.  I would boil, deseed, simmer and bag.  I am proud to say that from the months of July – April we didn’t buy one container of spaghetti sauce, tomato sauce, cans of diced or stewed tomatoes.   We just recently finished our last bag of frozen tomato sauce out of the freezer and it was a bit sad (although endearing to see my freezer bottom again).  

With the transplanting of the tomatoes to their containers, the tomatoes truly mark garden season for us.  These guys will hopefully be around until the beginning of Fall, where I will (hopefully) continue to pick them off the vine and throw them straight into my mouth.

Let’s plant some tomatoes!

Here’s how the calendar works with our tomatoes.
March 14tomato seeds are planted inside.  Then they live under a fluorescent bulb setup until they are strong enough to go outside and the weather permits their arrival.
April 19 – the tomatoes are enormous inside.  They are so big they are growing into the light as we can’t make our loft ceiling any taller for them.  It’s been a little too risky to move them directly outside due to the weather temperature changing so sporadically so they are moving under the greenhouse instead…outside but inside.  
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Their roots are expanding every single day.
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I walk by them every single day, touch them and then enjoy the fresh tomato smell that all tomato growers love.
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April 19 – They move into their temporary home, under the greenhouse, where they enjoy steamy days.  Tomatoes love their heat…
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Just wanted to note that after taking this picture, I slid on some dirt, fell on the ground, bruising my hip and right leg, while risking my health to save the life of our camera.  “Don’t look at me, I’m so embarrassed” I whispered to Matthew as he rushed to my side.  Then I cried.  “Dont look at me” I mumbled .   

April 25 – THE DAY IS HERE.
Can I get a drum roll?

(Thank you).
THE TOMATOES WILL MOVE INTO THEIR CONTAINERS.

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Open up the green house, pull the tomatoes out! Say goodbye to living with the cauliflower and broccoli!

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As you can see by their size and roots, they need a larger space asap! They need room to grow, to stretch out their legs and arms and cute little noses.

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Get ready little tomatoes.

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We prepared the containers a few days before.  We make them the exact same way as the broccoli and cauliflower containers.

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By the way, this is a good time to note our A-clamp collection.  This is less than a quarter of them.  How do we get sponsored by A-clamps?

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Get ready.

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We rearrange all the tomatoes, putting all varieties together in separate bins.

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Hello beautiful(s).

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Then one by one we cut holes in the plastic and put the tomatoes in their container.  We plant the tomatoes DEEP.  About half of their stem is already under potting mix in this picture.  This will root them good.

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We do this to every single one.  Hello Hybrid Salsa tomatoes.

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Hello Aroma tomatoes.  How are these different than Roma tomatoes? Well they have a “A” in front of their name, that’s really all I have so far.

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Then there’s two of  my favorites (they’re all my favorite), cherry tomatoes.

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And the big beefs!

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During this time we plant the green peppers too.  They live well with their tomato friends.

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I say it all the time, I know, but green peppers are stress free.  We’ve never had any problem with them.  They just grow big and strong with some water and hugs.

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Then we give every single plant their own cage immediately.  Tomatoes tend to grow pretty quickly and with the wind on the roof, extra support is always helpful. 

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All caged up.

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All tomatoes got their cage? Yup!

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Would you believe we have to put 2 cages on top of each other by the end of the season because they grow that tall?  We start with one then mid season attach another on top. (I squint constantly on the roof,  having blue eyes is rough).  

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To give you a idea, see those super tall green guys in the back with the cages sticking out of?  Yeah that’s our monster tomato plants last year.  They grow big.  

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And the last step… the tomatoes are planted, they have their cages, but they need a little more protection.  The roof gets super windy, I can’t stress how windy it can get (even when there’s not hurricanes named Sandy knocking us down) so we help the tomatoes stay upright and protected  by wrapping the entire tomato structure with wind blocker fabric.  This is also called row cover fabric.  We buy it in a big bolt and it lasts a long time. 

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Then  you hold one side while the other person wraps it around.  This is a 2 person job, especially if it’s windy!  

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Then it gets clamped and it stays up.  We will keep this up on windy days, and bring it down on non windy days.  The fabric is light weight so it doesn’t restrict sunlight too much.

May 6 – The tomatoes have transitioned quite nicely to their new home.  The first few days are always hard as you see them slightly struggle to get used to the direct sun all day long and the wind.
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But then  you see the new green growth on every single plant and take a sigh of relief.  The tomatoes have moved in and made themselves at home. Grow strong little guys! (Soon to be Mr. Big Guys!)

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Looking good peppers!

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This post brought to you by a girl who has to stick her head between fabric to take pictures of her beloved tomatoes and peppers.

Are you growing tomatoes this year?  Did you already plant them? What kind are you growing?

Gingerbread Popcorn

We recently got a air popper which is changing our lives.    With a air popper you don’t have to use any butter or oil.  It’s fresh, low calories and each kernel is so puffy and light.   Not to mention it’s so quick to pop.  The product claims you can pop 18 cups in 2.5 minutes – wow!  For now we have stuck to single servings or a bowl for both of us, but because of how quick it works for us, I trust it can do that amount too.  On the calorie side, one big bowl of popcorn for one clocks in at 110 calories plain.  It always fills me!  On our counter now sits a 12 pound jar of popcorn ready for you to scoop and pop!

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A few nights ago during the night I whispered to my husband “give me your phone”.  There I sent myself a email that only had a subject line.  The email looked like this:
gingerbread

I knew when I woke up the next morning I would understand it, I needed to make gingerbread popcorn.  But where to start?

I had a few rules:
-Needs to taste like gingerbread
-No butter
-No oil of any kind

The result: A  simple gentle ginger tasting popcorn which was eaten in a few minutes.  I have a bunch of popcorn thoughts in my head so stay tuned for more popcorn recipes!

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Gingerbread Popcorn

Servings 1

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons unpopped popcorn
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 single packet of Splenda

Instructions

  1. Use a air popper to pop your corn. Put in a bowl.
  2. Mix ginger, nutmeg, salt, cinnamon and splenda in a bowl.
  3. Mist your popcorn with water 1-2 times.
  4. Sprinkle seasoning mixture over popcorn and toss popcorn around.
  5. Enjoy!

Recipe Notes

This recipe is for one serving. Duplicate for as many as you need.
If you'd like to use real sugar or Stevia you can use that instead of Splenda. A packet of Splenda measures a little less than 1/2 teaspoon, so measure accordingly.

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Air popping.. 

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Your gingerbread spices..

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If you aren’t using oil or butter, the seasoning is not going to stick to your popcorn.  The solution to keep this oil and butter free is to mist your popcorn with a water mister (or a cheap one from the dollar store) 1 times, toss it so the bottom is now the top, mist again.  Misting it 1-2 times will not cause your popcorn to get soft.  The water will allow the seasoning to stick to it, plus it will keep your popcorn low calorie. 

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Eat as a afternoon snack..

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Or while you’re watching your favorite television show…  The only 2 shows I watch right now is Game of Thrones and Mad Men.  What do you watch?

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Enjoy every single piece! (PS.  My nails are supposed to look like this – I’m lying). 

Soho House Berlin Review

I want to move into the Soho House you guys.  Seriously.

We were recently in Berlin where we stayed at the beautiful Soho House.  I could not have picked a better place to fall asleep at after a long flight across the Atlantic.  

The first thing as we walked into the hotel we noticed was how it was decorated for the holidays, simple but yet fun.
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There were ping pong tables to the other side so you could have a cup of tea and then get your game on.
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After we checked in we made our way to our floor and found our room. As soon as we walked in I gasped with happiness.  This was my new home.
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Matthew had a great idea which was to just dive into those blankets.
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Want to know a funny story?  We wanted to set our alarm on the first day to wake up early and see the city but the bed was that comfortable and we were that tired we slept in until it was dark out the following day. Oooops.  
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Between this bed, the bathtub and the robe I basically was never going to get anything else done.
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What I loved about the room was how it was decorated with modern but yet classic design in style.  Little things like the stainless steel clock or the beautiful glasses to enjoy a cup of water.  
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Do you see what I see too? Zoom in to the right on the dresser.
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Yes, my very own tea kettle filled with the best teas and sugars.  Little things like this really make a hotel special as it feels like home. 
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But my absolute favorite part of the hotel – that’s easy. That was the bathroom.  One giant bathtub and a enormous rainshower.  At this point I told Matthew I was moving in.
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What would be a review without getting some room service on a lazy cold night?  Matthew got the burger. I got the macaroni and cheese. I might or might not have ate this mac and cheese while lying in the bathtub in pure happiness.   I was seriously obsessed with that tub.
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We were there in Berlin to celebrate the opening of the Green Box Project where we showed our project AR_Avatars.  This happened right in the bar floor at the Soho Houses and was packed with guests that were having fun.
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Hope you guys enjoyed the trip with me – now let’s go back on a group trip!
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Weekly Round Up

Another week has ended and now it’s May!  Today I was outside with a short sleeve shirt on, it always makes me feel slightly uncomfortable going from winter to  short sleeves. I feel so…unprotected, short sleeve insecurities is what I call it.

This week I’ve had a flux of feelings dealing with life, work, future.  These are some words I tell myself, sometimes they help.
-Everything is going to be ok. Breathe.
-Remember as a kid you thought adults had it all figured out? Turns out adults don’t have it figured out.
-Keep doing what you love. It will pay off.
-Save = Security.
-Hugs can quickly turn a bad day around.  
-Take some time for yourself.  If that means sitting down with a cup of tea and reading a magazine for 20 minutes, then do it.  Everyone needs this time.
-Sleep more.  

In recipes this week I got you covered for Cinco De Mayo. I made:
Cilantro + Lime Basmati Rice
Fried Ice Cream
Tortilla Soup
Crockpot Chipotle Chicken Tacos

In recipes that I saved to hopefully make soon: 
Creamy Shrimp and Rigatoni with Sweet Peas and Peppers
Avocado, Mozzarella, and Jalapeño Chimichurri Grilled Cheese
Sweet Coconut Popcorn
Spaghetti with Pesto Trapanese
Stir Fried Shangai Noodles with Ground Pork and Cabbage
Chili Cheese Dip (plan on making this for Sunday afternoon of watching basketball playoffs)

Garden Update:
This week has  been about general upkeep and starting a regular watering schedule.  The broccoli and cauliflower are finally able to handle a full afternoon of sun as we have been protecting them with fabric.   All the hearty greens such as the kale, sprouts, cabbage, lettuce and spinach have showed large signs of growth!    The radishes I planted a week ago have all started to appear above the soil.  We also planted some herb seeds both in pots on the roof as well as in our loft in a hydroponic system we have.    I will have a few more indepth garden posts next week.. including.. TOMATO PLANTING!

Things I ask you:
What are some things I can make with 2 apples ready to go bad?  It needs to be delicious and easy.
What are your plans for the weekend?

And now I share you with snapshots from the past week:

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A friend is thinking about starting a garden so he invited us over to get some vegetable advise.  I spotted a few garden flamingos which made my day.  Who doesn’t love garden flamingos?

Here’s some eye candy I spotted around my neighborhood that are true signs that it’s May.
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One of our Rhododendron plants bloomed. I’m in love.  Every single day we go up to the roof I shout out “Look at it!”.

Weekly cat round up:
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Essy has been rowdy this week.  Essy is our 19 year old queen of the household.  

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Xanadu continues to fight NBA players for the basketball.

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Brother Bear continues to just look at me and I melt right away.

Speaking of Brother.. a few days ago I was sitting at  my computer while Brother and FiFi Bofinkles were sleeping nearby.  Suddenly 2 pigeons landed on our air conditioner in the window and started to flap their wings.  Brother and Bofinkles woke up and immediately formed a Private Investigations team where they vowed they would get those pigeons.
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“Brother, did you get them yet?”

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“Bofinkles, did you get them yet?”

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And then both just sat staring out the window, waiting.  The pigeons never came back.

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We shook out our comforter cover that had a comforter inside that somehow got a hole in it.  Let’s just say we weren’t expecting a feather apocalypse.

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This is a new magazine that I have been following online.  Matthew surprised me by getting me the first issue.    I love it!

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Matthew turned 30! 

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Is there anything more exciting than watching someone open up presents you got for them?

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I commissioned an artist on Etsy to make Matthew these ceramic plates for his birthday.  Jolly and Jolly’s Brother are stuffed snowmen we have that love pizza.   I think I made him cry a little when he opened up this gift…

 

 

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I made a few little snack gift bags for a friend who deserved it.

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I started Book 3 of Game of Thrones.  Anyone else crazily obsessed? When Sunday night is over I cry inside because I have to wait an entire week for the next episode.  

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My one doctor I go to has a waiting time of about 2 hours after your scheduled appointment time.  It’s brutal waiting, but he’s a great doctor.  Thankfully he has a aquarium full of fish so I just watch them and smile as everyone is creeped out by me in the waiting room.

In food time this week..
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I made homemade pumpkin pancakes for breakfast over the weekend.  You can find the ultra delicious recipe here.

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Powdered sugar, always a must!

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For Matthew’s birthday, I made a slow cooked pot roast, creamy mashed potatoes and biscuits.  I will be posting the recipe for the pot roast and potatoes soon.  This dinner was thoroughly enjoyed!

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Do you know about Momofuku Milk Bar? There’s a few locations but there’s one close to me in Brooklyn.  To put it into a few words, it might be the best place in the world.   They are famous for their cereal milk specialties which is exactly what it sounds like.  Ever have a bowl of cereal, finish the cereal but then you have that sweet milk left over that you sip?  Well they sell that in jars! And in soft serve ice cream! And in shake! OMG THE SHAKES.  They have a pretzel cake shake which has pretzels completely ground up so the shake is salty delicious.  It will change your life, I’m not kidding.  I got one. I swooned.  I do it all the time.

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One of their other specialties are birthday cake truffle balls which causes me to go weak in the knees.   They are balls of sugary cake. They are the joy of my life.   If you ever visit, get the cake truffles and a pretzel shake,  please please please.  

Have a good weekend!

Slow Cooker Chicken Chipotle Tacos

FAMILY FAVORITE Slow Cooker Chicken Chipotle Tacos! These shredded chicken tacos are made in the crockpot in a chipotle sauce marinade! This recipe is easy to make and is ready in 10 on low or 5 hours on high. They are our favorite authentic Mexican tacos!

We are big taco lovers in this house, but there are only 2 true taco recipes we love.  One is a pepper steak where we cook on the stove, the other is Chicken Chipotle Tacos that are slow cooked for hours causing delicious smells all day long.   I have messed with this recipe over the past few years and it’s now become a family favorite.

FAMILY FAVORITE Slow Cooker Chicken Chipotle Tacos! These shredded chicken tacos are made in the crockpot in a chipotle sauce marinade! This recipe is easy to make and is ready in 10 on low or 5 hours on high. They are our favorite authentic Mexican tacos!

This recipe makes a good bit of shredded chicken so it’s easily a few meals for us.  Whatever is  left over, we put into freezer bags and freeze.  Isn’t it the best when you are feeling lazy but can still pull out a amazing homemade meal out of your freezer, defrost it and you’re set?  This recipe I tell ya, it gives and it gives.

These tacos are also a crowd pleaser, perfect for the big game, friends over for Sunday brunch or just a movie night!

FAMILY FAVORITE Slow Cooker Chicken Chipotle Tacos! These shredded chicken tacos are made in the crockpot in a chipotle sauce marinade! This recipe is easy to make and is ready in 10 on low or 5 hours on high. They are our favorite authentic Mexican tacos!

Here’s all your ingredients you’ll need for this recipe!
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You will need to get some dried ancho chiles.  You can usually find these in the produce section, they come in a plastic bag and cost around $3.
dried ancho peppers from grocery store

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You need them soft, so throw them in some boiling water for 15 minutes.  They will soften up right away.

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You will also need a small can of chipotle sauce, here’s the brand I use.  You can find this in the mexican food aisle.

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Now we want to start to  make the Chipotle marinade.  Add all your ingredients, except the chicken breasts, into the food processor.

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Pulse a few times until smooth.

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It’s that easy, now your chipotle marinade is done!

Don’t worry about this being too spicy, it’s just perfect!  I promise you!

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Grab your breasts.  (Don’t go there)

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Use a knife and stab them each a few time, this will help the marinade soak up.


Put your chicken into your slow cooker.

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Add your chipotle marinade, smear all over the chicken.

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Add 1/2 cup of water.  This will make sure the chicken doesnt dry out.

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Cook on low for 10 hours or high for 5 hours.

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Now your kitchen is going to be smelling great!  Take a fork and shred up the chicken, you can do this right in the slow cooker, or you can put it on a cutting board. 

Stir it around in the chipotle marinade and dinner is ready! You’re going to love these Slow Cooker Chicken Chipotle Tacos!

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Use hard or soft shells, and fill them up with this delicious chicken! Top with your favorite toppings (tomatoes, lettuce, onions, peppers, cilantro, beans, rice, cheese, avocado… the list goes on!)

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Hope you enjoy these as much as we do!

Pin for later:
FAMILY FAVORITE Slow Cooker Chicken Chipotle Tacos! These shredded chicken tacos are made in the crockpot in a chipotle sauce marinade! This recipe is easy to make and is ready in 10 on low or 5 hours on high. They are our favorite authentic Mexican tacos!

Slow Cooker Chicken Chipotle Tacos

FAMILY FAVORITE Slow Cooker Chicken Chipotle Tacos! These shredded chicken tacos are made in the crockpot in a chipotle sauce marinade! This recipe is easy to make and is ready in 10 on low or 5 hours on high. They are our favorite authentic Mexican tacos!

Course Main Course
Cuisine American, Mexican
Servings 10

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces dried ancho chiles
  • 7 ounce can chipotle sauce
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 cup water

Instructions

  1. Soften your ancho chiles by boiling them for 15 minutes in a small saucepan of water. Drain, cut open chiles and remove the seeds.  Throw the seeds away.

  2. Add ancho chiles, chipotle sauce, salt, pepper, cumin, oregano, garlic and vegetable oil n a food processor. Puree until smooth.

  3. Use a knife and stab a few holes in each chicken breast.  This will help them soak up the marinade sauce.

  4. Add chicken to slow cooker, then pour chipotle marinade on top. Spread all over chicken. Add 1/2 cup of water. Stir chicken so everything is marinated in the water/sauce. 

  5. Cook on low for 10 hours or high for 5 hours.

  6. Use a fork and shred the chicken up in the slow cooker.

  7. Serve on hard or soft shells with whatever toppings you'd like!

  8. Enjoy!

Recipe Notes

Whatever is leftover, you can freeze in freezer bags.

Enjoy friends!

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