The BEST Cinnamon Sugar Applesauce recipe! This is my FAVORITE homemade apple picking recipe that’s so easy to make! All you need is apples, cinnamon, sugar and lemon juice! It’s quick to make and tastes delicious! I love eating this as a snack and baking bread with it! It’s great for canning too!
“Best”. I know that’s pretty bold, but this applesauce is just that good. After eating the first spoonful I nearly fell to the floor in tears. Where has this applesauce been my entire life? The recipe is pretty basic with just apples, sugar, cinnamon and a little bit of lemon juice. You can have this in your belly in about 15 minutes which adds bonus points to the process.
After I made this applesauce I’m finding it hard to ever go back to the jarred version, it’s just so rich and fresh. After you eat it, life will be better. You will start to smile more, you will dance a little bit, you will pick up your pets and hug them, you will yell to your neighbor who you never talked to across the street “Have a great day beautiful!”. It’s that good.
I made this applesauce with my nifty new toy, my Weston food strainer. It’s life changing. It peels, core sand deseeds for you, I love it dearly. Food mill if you are reading this, I love you. I bought it specifically for tomato season since every single year I question why I don’t have one, so I bit the bullet and bought it on Amazon on Saturday night and Monday morning at 8AM the Fedex man buzzed up and told me it was here. How did it get here so quick?
This might not come as a complete shock to you but I love pumpkins. I love all kinds of pumpkins. Pumpkins that we grow, pumpkins in a pumpkin patch, stuffed pumpkins that I can hug, pumpkins that light up, cupcakes that look like pumpkins, balloon pumpkins. I love them all.
I wear clothing with pumpkins on. Even in December. I love them!
One of the most proudest moments of my life was a few years ago when I went to Target the day after Halloween and found a giant light up pumpkin that I have been eying up for 90% off! It was huge! I needed it! I hugged it tightly and rushed to the register. So off I went, struggling to carry and lug this guy home on the G train. Some people smiled at me on the train, some people wondered why I was carrying a glittery pumpkin that had a power cord attached it. But I did not care. This pumpkin was mine and the world was a better place because of it. We went on to name him Big Mr. Pumpkin. (Big Mr. Pumpkin shown here in the middle with his real grown brothers).
This was our first Christmas tree together in 2003, with a pumpkin on top. We put it up in October and it stayed up until late January!
My pumpkin obsession started early on. Besides my very strong feelings of all things Halloween, I have always loved growing pumpkins. Even in the early years I could be found completely taking over my parents small back yard with my growing all over the place pumpkins. I was so proud of this pumpkin. I also kind of looked like Harry Potter. 20 years later, my eyesight got better so the Harry Potter glasses weren’t needed but I still love the pumpkins!
Today, the pumpkin love is still there, but even stronger. So when we planned on starting the rooftop garden years ago, I had one thing on my mind, pumpkins! Oh yes, we needed the orange warriors of the garden. We have worked up to growing pumpkins twice a year because why not? Why not have pumpkins all year in my opinion. We grow one batch to harvest in July and one batch to harvest in October. This means that this month I get to start baking with fresh pumpkin and I absolutely love it!
My favorite things to make with pumpkin:
Pumpkin Macaroni and Cheese
Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
Those are my go to pumpkin recipes and I love each one dearly! Over the next few weeks I will be sharing a few of those and I will continue to share them throughout Fall so when October and November rolls around, we’ll be pumpkin set! Once you bake or cook with fresh pumpkin puree you just got out of a pumpkin, you can’t turn back to the canned stuff. You just can’t. It’s delicious, it’s beautiful. It’s oh my, I love you pumpkins, kiss me please.
So let’s not wait any longer, let’s meet our pumpkins we just picked!
A few details first about these guys: Pumpkin seeds were planted on April 22 and transplanted outside May 20.
We grow both Jack-O-Lanterns and New England Pie variety.
They were picked from July 18-July 20.
I hand pollinate pumpkins in the very early morning when the female flower is open with Q-Tips and love.
Although some people only cook with pie variety pumpkins, I find nothing wrong with using Jack-O-Lantern puree and often use it for baking.
Pumpkins biggest enemies are powdery mildew and aphids. The kind of seeds we buy are resistant to powdery mildew. If you see aphids, squish them up with your hands ASAP.
You do not need a big yard or field to grow pumpkins, we grow ours in containers!
They were grown in 27 gallon containers.
Sub irrigated planters work great for pumpkins!
Jack-O-Lanterns plants are grown in their own container. (1:1 ratio)
New England Pie are grown 2 plants per container.
Leave your pumpkins roam, let them stretch out and take over.
Baby pumpkin seedlings, getting ready to go into the big scary world. But it will be ok babies!
In just a little over a week one of the seedlings in the picture above turned into this. As soon as they move into their container and can spread out, the plants grow quick!
And then I start waking up very early to hand pollinate with a Q-tip. You will know by that later that evening or the next morning if it worked or not. This one was a success!
Then they get bigger a little at a time…
And greener. And when they get dark green, you will start to see those orange specks of color pop out…
And then you wait until they are completely orange! Can you tell the difference with the one up top and the one down bottom? The one down bottom is still slightly green, give it about 2 more days…
And then it will be ready!
Oh pumpkins, you beautiful darlings you! You make me so happy!
You really do brighten my day. You’re my pumpkin sunshine!
Great job pumpkins this summer!
I will see you soon! Your brothers, the next batch of pumpkin seedlings, are already growing tall! They will be moving outside soon enough and the cycle repeats..
See your orange beautiful selves in October!
HOMEMADE Blueberry Jam recipe made from 1 pint of blueberries! This easy to make no pectin, no sugar recipe is perfect for eating and canning. This healthy jam is delicious served over toast, pancakes, french toast and ice cream!
Blueberry Jam Recipe
We’re jammin’, I wanna jam it wid you. We’re jammin’, jammin’, And I hope you like blueberry jammin’, too.
I was craving fresh blueberry jam but I didn’t want to make a big batch of it, in fact I wanted to make jam with just 1 pint of blueberries. Maybe you’ll pick fresh blueberries from your garden or maybe you’ll pick up a pint of blueberries from the farmers market, either way you can enjoy this easy and quick recipe.
1 Pint Blueberry Jam
This jam recipe is incredibly easy to make! You’ll want to add 1 pint blueberries, honey, cinnamon and lemon juice to a saucepan. Bring it to a boil for about 30 minutes, or until it’s jam consistency, giving it a stir every few minutes to make sure it doesn’t stick to the pot.
This jam recipe can easily be tweaked to other berries – like blackberries or raspberries too! A few people reached out to me to ask me if they could use frozen blueberries in the recipe instead of fresh… well you can!
I prefer fresh berries for this recipe but frozen berries will still taste good. Just make sure to defrost the blueberries before you add to the pan, and keep a eye on the jam as the berries might cooker quicker than fresh ones.
How many cups is 1 pint of blueberries?
1 pint of blueberries equals about 2 cups fresh blueberries.
Don’t you love how flavorful blueberries are? I love that they’re so tiny but filled with flavor! They’re great to add to mini blueberry muffins, overnight oats, blueberry buckle or just enjoy on a piece of toast (like this jam!). In case you needed more reason to like blueberries, they also are high in antioxidants, boost brain health, support digestion and promote heart health!
I love spreading this blueberry jam on toast, scones (here’s my easy scones recipe), muffins, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, pancakes, french toast or more. It’s also delicious served over ice cream! However you serve it – I hope you enjoy it!
Looking for more jam recipes?
If you like this Blueberry Jam recipe, try these other family favorite jams:
HOMEMADE Blueberry Jam recipe made from 1 pint of blueberries! This easy to make no pectin, no sugar recipe is perfect for eating and canning. This healthy jam is delicious served over toast, pancakes, french toast and ice cream!
blueberry jam recipe
Put all ingredients into a saucepan and stir.
Bring to boil, then simmer for 30-35 minutes until jam consistency.
This is the beginning of many tomato posts to come in the next few weeks. Right now we’re handling Tomato Season 2013 so I’m constantly looking for new tomato ideas to both use our harvest, but also preserve so we can enjoy it until next summer!
A great way to use up lots of tomatoes you have is to make homemade tomato paste. Tomato paste is a great ingredient to have on hand to thicken up sauce and soups. Not to mention it’s a great base to make some yummy marinara sauce. I love this specific recipe because we are going to freeze them in ice cube trays which means you can use a little bit at a time. No more using one of those tomato paste cans that you only need 2 tablespoons for. By using ice cube tray size you use what you need, nothing goes to waste.
The best type of tomatoes for paste is roma or plum tomatoes (think elongated in shape) because they have the least amount of seeds. In this recipe, we don’t take the skin off or deseed the tomatoes, we just cut them in half. Tomato paste is super easy to make, it just takes a little patience until it’s done. It’s made by cooking the tomatoes on the stove for hours to the point of where you boil away all the liquid, causing a very concentrate form of tomatoes, which turns into “paste”. By the time the hours are over, you are going to have beautiful tomato paste.. and a house that smells wonderful! You will be hungry after smelling this on the stove.. 🙂 These cubes last a very long time, months. I could easily throw a cube in some tomato sauce in January that I make this week. I love these tomato paste cubes because when it’s snowing out and I reach for one, I get to remember the good garden days had months prior.. and that just makes me smile!
Do I need to say anything else when you read a title like that?
I mean there’s chocolate, there’s Nutella, they are in popsicle form. They will melt, they will run all over you, you will need to lick yourself clean. It’s a great situation to be in.
After posting about the sweltering heat a few days ago I decided to make some popsicles with these cute popsicle molds I bought a few summers ago. I was going to make a fruit popsicle, lemon or lime.. but then I had a chocolate craving (shocking). Remember Fudgesicles? They were great. So what happens when we take the idea of a fudgy popsicle and add creamy Nutella to it? You get a popsicle that will cause you to fall in love.
(Nutella – I love you).
Fact: We first ate these for dessert over the weekend. Minutes later Matthew and I were in a complete popsicle trance. We used plates below incase they melted (it’s really hot out) and then I noticed we both licked our plates clean. We’re meant for each other. We’re meant to be with these popsicles. Chocolate Nutella popsicles, I love you guys. Get in my belly.
The other wonderful thing is I used fat free milk so these came out to 150 calories a popsicle. I think that’s a pretty great deal as these are major for chocolate lovers. They will hit the spot. Your craving will be fulfilled. You will be very very very very happy.
Yesterday and today it feels brutal in NYC. Yesterday after getting home and wiping my dripping wet face I looked at the weather and it said “Feels like 106 degrees”. Then I looked at my shirt that now had belly sweat spots and sobbed lightly on my cement floor. Oh my. Actually right now as I write this post it’s 11:21PM and I just looked at the weather and it says “feels like 100”. It’s 11:21PM. I was just sent this website where you can check the weather on the L train platform, which is a popular subway train that runs from Brooklyn to Manhattan. At the Union Square stop right now it’s 104F. WHAT IS GOING ON.
All I wanted today was Sour Patch Kids popsicles, they were so hard to track down and PathMark Supermarket had them. But I was 2 miles away from my house, there was no way they were going to make it. Do you know when it’s bad? You buy chocolate chips to bake with and by the time you get home they are melted chocolate. Do you know when it’s bad? When I feel my wall near my windows at 11:24PM and it’s hot to the touch. Do you know when it’s bad? When my beloved corn basically wants to call it a day and is sick of this weather. Extreme weather is not good for corn pollination, SIGH. By the looks of this article corn is a wide spread problem.
How’s the weather where you are? Is it a warm one or a tolerable summer? How are you with heat – do you love it or want to cry?
Here are some tips I bring you because I have no education in giving you summer tips, but I thought it could be fun.
1. Plan ahead. If you know it’s going to be really heated, buy popsicles days ahead of time. Don’t be like me and pout because you don’t have a popsicle. Has anyone tried the Sour Patch Kids popsicles by the way? Are they as amazing as I would hope? I just got a great idea to make my own lemon ones, so maybe after I write this post I will make them instead of going to sleep.
2. Go bare. If you’re inside and miserable, just take it off. You don’t have to take it all off, but as I’m writing this I’m in my underwear (TMI?). If the Fedex man knocks on your door, smile kindly and quick grab your box and close the door. Or have a shirt ready to throw on by the door. Cotton, hemp and other natural fabrics are summer feel good fabrics.
3. In all seriousness, drink a ton of water. You should be drinking half of your body weight in ounces so make sure you stay hydrated. If you’re working out, your body needs even more. Nothing makes me feel better than some ice cold lemon water, it makes me feel better right away.
4. Stay inside during peak hours. If you need to water that garden, or walk to the store, do it early or late in the day. Spend those heated afternoon hours indoors out of the sun. Your body needs rest so pretend it’s a spa during the day and relax. Take this time to watch a movie, make some no-bake cake batter squares, read a book, leave blog comments, paint your nails, make a spreadsheet on whatever your heart desires.
5. Keep your home cool during the day. If you need to make that roast in the oven that takes hours, save it for a cooler day. Keep your curtains down and try to protect the sun from entering in your entire house (especially your bedroom for when it’s sleepy time). Pretend you’re a vampire.
6. Cooling your head cools your entire body, just like in the winter if you warm up your head with a hat, your body feels warmer. Wetting your head with cold water during the day definitely cools you off (and makes me look like a cute wet dog). Also a ice pack will make you feel better.
7. If you have go outside, make it quick and always wear sunscreen! Protect yourself, that sun is very dangerous.
8. Use box fans and ceiling fans to work for you. If you’re using a ceiling fan you want it to run counterclockwise when viewed from under it. This causes air to be pushed down directly under the fan. Little fans like this one I have on my desk work great to keep me cooled down when I’m at my computer and doesn’t take up much space. Bonus, it’s also incredibly quiet. Even on the low setting my hair blows like I’m a movie star.
9. Before going to sleep get a cool shower or bath, this will lower your body temperature. I do this and run directly from the bathroom into the air conditioned bedroom. Wear minimal/nothing while you sleep.
10. Lots of people recommend eating spicy food in the heat. You might think this is crazy, but if you think about it spicy food will cause you to sweat which will cool down your body. Eat light foods, cold salads, fruits and plenty of cold snacks (pickles anyone?). Also I recommend a piece of cold fudge because when don’t I recommend a piece of cold fudge?
11. Check on everyone in your house, make sure everyone else is feeling ok too. Throwing ice cubes down other peoples shirts as you walk by is a fun way to kill the afternoon. This is the only time no one will fight about it.
Cats have it rough in the heat so please make sure to take care of your furry critter baby faces. These are tips I have come across after my numerous searches of trying to keep our 4 meowzas happy in the summer. Don’t take offense to it if your cat doesn’t care about any of it and ignores all your good gestures, that’s why you love your cat. And you know deep down inside, your cat appreciates it, they just don’t want you to know that.
1. Keep cool bowls of water around the house. Add ice cubes to it to stay cool. This is extra fun because your cat might enjoy batting at the ice cube.
2. Don’t keep the fans or air conditioning to yourself, share with them. Make sure the cool areas are accessible to them.
3. If your cat has long hair, you can consider getting it shaved in the summer time. Brother Bear is a Maine Coon but our vet won’t even cut his nails out of fear (ok, he made her bleed once.. ok maybe twice… and maybe a vet assistant too).
4. Get a damp cloth and rub it over your cats body.
5. Keep a wet cloth in the freezer and when it freezes, put it on the floor. They might lay on it, or just lay near it to feel the cold air on their whiskers.
6. Try to keep your cats calm during the day, just like you, you don’t want to run around during the afternoon hours so keep the game of chase the fly/mouse/your foot for later on.
7. Give your cat cool options to lay. Cats love tile floor, your sink, or even a box that you make them in a cool part of the house. Cats love boxes, they can’t resist them.
8. Brush your cat daily! Summer causes matted fur and trust me, that’s not nice for the cat or you if you have to comb out those mats. This will also allow air to flow better in their fur.
9. Watch for heatstroke. If your cat is panting, drooling, vomiting or just seems out of it, play it safe and get to the vet.
10 . Love your cat. Talk to it about how much the weather sucks while you kiss their nose. They will listen to you. You guys are in this together.
This year has been our greatest success in watermelon growing. We planted 4 plants and each of them produced at least 4 watermelons! To be exact there’s over 20 watermelon in the garden so some of the plants made even more!
Our watermelon facts:
Seeds were planted inside April 22 and then transplanted to their containers outside on May 20.
These watermelon we plant are called Little Baby Flowers and they grow to be about 4 pounds a piece.
These specific variety are very sweet inside with a high sugar count. Perfect for any kind of eating!
This variety is very low on seed count inside which is another perk for snacking.
Keep your watermelons watered, especially in containers. They are called WATERmelon for a reason.
Watermelon are made through pollination. We assist ours in hand pollination which is basically just rubbing the male all over the female flowers (real romantic, I know).
How do you know when your watermelon are ready to pick?
-Flick the watermelon with your fingers, listen for a dull thump. This is a art to listening for this sound, but if you can figure out what a mature watermelon sounds like, you’ll always know when to pick.
-Look at the tendril that grows closest to the melon on the vine. If it’s green, the watermelon probably has some time. If it’s brown or dry, it’s time to pick.
-Always read your seed packet, they are pretty accurate for maturity dates.
-Look at where the melon rested on the ground. If it has a yellow color spot, then your watermelon is most likely ripe and ready to pick.
Always cut your watermelon off the plant, don’t rip it off with your hands which can damage the watermelon and the plant that way.
So without further due.. let’s look at our watermelons!
The first watermelon was picked, it was a joyous day. I was like a proud mama holding my baby watermelon.
I remember it just was just the other day ago that me and your dad were outside in the rain building your containers in the rain. You were transplanted and scared of a little drizzle but you made it through.
And then last month I started to spot you and your brothers and sisters. You start out so tiny…
And then you grew into a adult watermelon!
There are a few watermelon at first…
And then suddenly the watermelon plants explode and make themselves comfortable on the roof. There are watermelons everywhere we looked!
So I have to tell you how excited I was to eat you, baby watermelon. I mean that in the nicest way, and I know you know what I mean. This is all about love watermelon.
I sliced you down the middle.
Both halves sat in front of me, I could smell the sweetness.
Then I continued to chop you into slices..
And I just couldn’t get over how perfect you were!
I needed a snack right away so I went even further and cut you into bite size pieces.
And the first watermelon of the year was enjoyed…
As always, you’re the tastiest sweetest juiciest watermelon I ever had. In fact after I finish this post I’m going to eat more of you!
HEALTHY Ground Turkey Kale Meatball Sub! These meatballs are fried on the stove and then covered with tomato sauce and American cheese on a sub roll! This homemade recipe is easy, healthy and your family will love it! Even my Midwest husband thinks this is the BEST meatball sandwich!
Who doesn’t like a good meatball sub? It’s quick, it’s hearty, it’s sloppy, you get to eat it with your fingers. It’s meat, cheese and tomato sauce – how can you go wrong? But with this one we’re going to mix it up a little bit and add some kale to get your greens in! Don’t be alarmed by the combination of kale and meat together in this sub – once everything is mixed together, it just works. My husband is a Midwest boy who loves his hearty dinners and this sub is A+ in his book!
This meatball sub is based on my kale meatballs recipe which I first made last summer and fell in love with. These turkey meatballs are great over spaghetti, yummy grilled as a finger food on a stick, but they are delicious on a sub roll! This kale turkey sandwich is one of our dinner favorites!
A meatball sub isn’t finished until it’s slathered in tomato sauce and then American cheese is melted on top – then it’s ready to eat!
Enjoy one of my all time favorite sandwiches, Turkey Kale Meatball Sub!
HEALTHY Ground Turkey Kale Meatball Sub! These meatballs are fried on the stove and then covered with tomato sauce and American cheese on a sub roll! This homemade recipe is easy, healthy and your family will love it! Even my Midwest husband thinks this is the BEST meatball sandwich!
2cupsuncooked chopped fresh kale
Pinchof dried rosemaryparsley, oregano, thyme
American cheese slices
Add 3 tablespoons of olive oil to a pan over medium high heat. Add kale and spices. Cook until your kale is wilted.
Put kale mixture and garlic into a food processor to mince. Add your turkey and egg and pulse until it’s all combined.
Form this mixture into 2 inch balls.
Use your same pan (its already greased) and heat to medium high.
Add your meatballs and cook until browned on all sides (make sure to flip them), about 10-15 minutes.
For the sub
Cut your sub rolls down the middle.
Add meatballs on sub roll to fit.
Add 2 slices of American cheese slices on top of the meatballs. Melt cheese in microwave or toaster oven if needed.
The sugar snap peas were planted, they grew, we cheered, we picked them off the plant and they went straight into our mouths. Sugar snap peas, how are you so delicious? You’re crunchy. You’re slightly sweet. You can be eaten as a snack. You can be eaten for dinner. You can eaten in bed (why not). Sugar snap peas, you’re so perfect. Every single one of you.
Here’s some details from our Sugar Snap Peas:
Our peas usually grow pretty well, they are one of those plants that produce a good bit of harvest. We never had much trouble with them (minus Hurricane Sandy but that totally wasn’t the Sugar Snaps fault!). These are the seeds we use.
We grow them twice a year, once in the summer, and they will be planted again for a Fall harvest very soon.
They were planted on March 14th to be exact and they lasted until the end of June. Here’s a mid season post in May on them. We grow them in a 4×4 box of soil, mixed in with compost soil and manure. Presprout your beans for them to come up quicker.
They grow tall, ours easily grow 10 feet tall. A tall fence = tall peas! Give them support.
Why doesn’t someone invent neon pink Sugar Snaps? They would be easier to spot, but it wouldn’t be half as fun. 🙂
When the pea harvest hits, a basket is needed everyday. It’s not uncommon to pick multiple cups in a day. Pea plants tend to produce for about 4-5 weeks straight.
1 pound of Sugar Snap peas equal about 4 cups strung peas.
They store well in the refrigerator in Ziploc bags (we keep them open a little bit). They easily store for a few weeks.
Pick them before the peas get too big, this will cause them to become hard and will taste starchy. Plus the quicker you pick them, the more the plant will try to grow more.
If you cook them, barely cook them. A minute in a hot pan is all you need. If you cook them too long they will lose their sweetness and that will be a bummer.
Eat raw. Eat in pasta. Add to stews and soups. Saute in stir frys (for about a minute). Add to omelets. Add to salads. Mix with rice.
95 percent of all the peas grown in the United States are frozen or canned. Grow your own and change the cycle! You won’t regret it as soon as you taste a fresh Sugar Snap.
That was alot of pea talk wasn’t it?
Now let’s look at the memories..
Look at you, you small little babies.
And then we had to thin you but I made Dad do it because you know how emotional Mom gets.
You started to climb..
And then your flowers came.. you were about to grow peas!
And you did!
Suddenly there were peas all over!
Then it was time to harvest. One by one we cut you..(we prefer cutting over hand picking as sometimes if you aren’t holding the plant with the other hand you can do damage to the plant by pulling too strong).
Dad (who is slightly over 6 feet) had to stand on a crate to get to you. You were so tall!
We started picking a few in the beginning..
Then enough that I couldn’t hold you all in my hands!
And then the basket was needed!
There were pounds of you to pick!
Sugar snaps, you guys are good people. Don’t forget that.
Matthew makes a delicious buttered noodle pasta dish with sugar snap peas! Would anyone be interested in me making a recipe post about it?
FUDGY CHOCOLATE AVOCADO BROWNIES that are made with APPLESAUCE instead of butter! These healthy version brownies are easy to make in a 8×8 pan and can easily be turned vegan! They are flourless and delicious – my entire family (even the kids!) love them!
I stock up sometimes in the supermarket with avocados because my mind is racing with so many ideas. Usually though I come home with multiple avocados and only use them for soup (this soup to be specific – it rules). With the heat on this July soup isn’t really in the cards, but my avocados were turning ripe quickly.
Chocolate Avocado Brownies
One problem, my beloved Matthew doesn’t like avocados. I’m a bad girl. A very bad girl. I apologize in advance.
I made these while he was working on the computer. I did it pretty secretly incase he would walk by. I hid my avocado pits and skin under the compost. I cleaned my bowls quickly. I lit a gingerbread candle in the kitchen incase he would smell the avocado (I’m crazy). Once I had it mushed up a good bit, I was in the clear so I quickly covered it with the other ingredients to where it appeared like the usual brownie mix.
Then I was brave. I needed a tester for my brownie mix so I held out a spoon to him. He ate it. I stared at him (too much). “Is it good?” I asked. He shook his head yes, “very good”. And than ate another spoonful.
I just lied to my other half. I’m sorry. I had to do it. Please forgive me. Sometimes you have to sacrifice things in a relationship and this is one of them.
Anyways – these brownies are amazing! They’re super fudgy and filled with avocado, chocolate and peanut butter! They are now a family favorite in my house – even if my family sometimes doesn’t know there’s avocado in them!
Healthy Avocado brownies
Why else are they amazing? They’re made with applesauce instead of butter! They are flourless! They are the perfect brownies to make if you have that overripe avocado that you don’t know what to do with! These brownies are WIN WIN WIN! The chocolate chips are a key to this recipe because you put them into the mixture whole – not melted. As the brownies bake, the chocolate chips will melt which cause a intense decadence.
When they come out of the oven, let them cool. I know this is really hard to do because you just want to eat them but because they are so fudgy they need to cool off or they will fall apart. They are so fudgy delicious and definitely worth the wait! So eat one, go for it. You deserve it. Eat it with a fork. Eat it with a spoon. Eat it plain. Throw ice cream on top. Throw whip cream on top. Throw sprinkles on top. Just throw it in your mouth already.
I have had this written in my notebook to do a post on in months. But every time it gets out ranked by a harvest, or a yummy recipe, or cats. It’s hard to do a glamorous post on compost, how do you make it fun to read about? But compost is exciting (get excited everyone)! Why? Because of our great compost we get big vegetables out of it! These yummy vegetables provide us our food for more yummy recipes. It all comes back to what you grow your vegetables in, containers, potting mix, compost, fertilizer, this will tell the future of how they grow.
We compost because there is no need to put kitchen/garden scraps in the trash when it can be turned into beautiful compost and reused in the garden. Plants love it. The planet loves it.
So everyone, put your hands together.. let’s give it up to the star of the hour, compost!
How to make compost? Essentially compost is made by mixing 50% green materials with 50% brown materials (1:1 ratio). Store your kitchen scraps (green materials) in the fridge, try to chop them as small as possible as they will decompose more quickly this way. When ready, mix them with your brown materials outside of your tumbler, this will make sure everything gets mixed together evenly. Tumblers have a tendency to clump materials together, keeping them from breaking down, for example if you just toss the greens on top of browns and spin they won’t mix up great. Mixing outside the tumbler beforehand prevents this from happening. While mixing, wet it with a bit of water to start the process. Keep in mind the greens will liquify as they decompose, so you only want to wet it slightly when beginning. Then add everything to your tumbler. Spin your tumbler once a day.
Your compost will be ready to use in your garden anywhere from 2-4 months, depending on how much you have, if you have items that are harder to break down. It will take longer if you keep adding things to it, so keep that in mind. Some people have multiple compost piles so they have one that sits, one that can be added on.
Chop your kitchen scraps up if you can. If you have full stems that are tough, this is going to take longer to decompose, so chop them up.
Learn what works well. For example avocado pits take years to decompose, so they might not be the best to add to the pile. Other things that take a longer time is corn cobs, peanut shells, fruit pits.
Seeds don’t work well for us to compost. The seeds inside of tomatoes will cause tomato plants to grow. I’m not kidding. We used to compost tomato guts then months later the soil would start to grow tomato plants all over. It’s cute, I know, but having 72 tomato plants pop up is a bit intimidating.
Don’t let your compost get too wet or it will start to stink. On the other side, don’t let it get too dry or nothing will happen.
The cast of characters:
The composter, Mr. Composter. This guy is from Envirocycle. We’ve had it for a few years and it rules. It looks nice and does it’s job. Can you ask for more? We use a compost tumbler because it is compact and fast compared to traditional compost piles and a lot less hassle than a worm bin.
Our green materials for our compost- kitchen scraps from vegetables, fruits, egg shells. You can also include tea leaves, tea bags, fresh grass clippings, pulp left over from your juicer.
Our brown materials for our compost – cocoa husks. You can also include: dry leaves, coffee grounds, shredded newspaper, shredded egg cartons, nuts/shells, twigs and hay. We have had good success using both cocoa husks and hay as our main brown sources.
So let’s get started!
If you are urban composting, brown materials might be harder to come by than you think. We love to use hay, but it’s really only available during the Fall, so we found a great alternative that can be used year round. This is 100 pound bag of cocoa husks. And yes, it smells as delightful as you would think it does! Mast Brothers which is a delicious chocolate shop in Brooklyn kindly hooked us up with a few hundred pounds of cocoa husks. We picked them up one day and I have to tell you, being in a car with these husks was the best driving in NYC experience I ever had in my life. I never wanted to get out of the car.
The great thing about cocoa husks is if you get them from a shop they are probably pretty ground up already which makes the best material.
Aren’t the cocoa husks beautiful? They smell good. And I totally tasted it, it tasted good too.
So start by adding your brown materials in a container first. Remember we do this before going in the tumbler so it evenly mixes and starts the process.
Wet your browns a little bit, not too much! Your greens will liquify but we want to start it…
Then start adding your green kitchen scrap materials.
Anything big like a pineapple top, chop up. I know it’s extra work in the beginning, but trust me, it’s worth it doing it now instead of waiting 12 months.
Then mix it all up so greens and browns are all combined.
Then start shoveling your compost mixture into your tumbler.
Just like this.
Keep doing this until you’re done. Don’t forget, always compost anything left over from the garden. You want to grow a garden, then give it back to the garden. This is the circle of a happy garden life!
I would recommend using a big shovel if you have one to mix up your materials.
Also don’t forget to stand up and stretch once in a while! This is a good garden workout. 🙂
We filled our tumbler in the front of the garden for extra space, so when it was ready, we just rolled it back to it’s base at the back of the garden. While Matthew rolled it I just sung “Rolling, Rolling, Rolling in the garden”.
So now the tumbler is ready to go. Give this guy a spin once a day.
Every few days you will start to see everything start to break down and the soil get prettier. Also keep a nose on smell, if it starts to stink it has too much water. The compost should smell Earthy and nice, you should enjoy it!
Our tumbler has a base where all the liquids go to. This is called compost tea. It’s a garden gold mine. Empty this out or it will become full and leak. Water your plants with this, they will love you!
We love using the compost tea on the areas where seeds were just planted. Seriously, this is magic liquid here, watch your plants grow big!
And when it’s time to add in your compost soil, it will be the most beautiful rich color.. just mix it around with your other soil. Then get those plants growing!
Hershey’s Peanut Butter Cups. Let me take a minute to swoon.
What isn’t there to love about them? It’s peanut butter, it’s chocolate, it’s bite size, it makes me happy when I am sad, it is a dear friend.
Where did this obsession start? Well first, I am from Pennsylvania so trips to Hershey Park, a amusement park, were had every summer. And there at Hershey’s Park there are chocolate bars that walk around and hug you. Thanks Hershey’s for making me emotionally attached to chocolate, ever since I was a child.
Not only is Hershey Park a amusement park but it’s also home to CHOCOLATE WORLD, which is a “ride” where you sit down and are taken into darkness and shown a simulation of the chocolate making process. It’s air conditioned, it smells heavily of chocolate, when you finish you get a free Hershey’s bar, and then you can go buy a huggable size Hershey Kiss plush (I totally did). Hershey Park, it’s a good place, check it out if you are ever in the area.
Surprisingly, Homemade Peanut Butter Cups are easy to make! And they taste real good. REAL REAL GOOD. If you could see the smile on my face you would understand my happiness and enthusiasm (and you would be slightly creeped out). The best thing about these Peanut Butter Cups is the peanut butter has grit, which we owe to the graham cracker crumbs. It’s not crunchy but it has that slight gritty taste that your beloved Reese’s cup has.
Give these a try next time you have a Peanut Butter Cup craving!
Here’s a full walk through:
Here’s all your ingredients you need. Pretty basic, right?
To get graham cracker crumbs we do it the old fashioned way, putting it in a bag and beating it up.
It’s a good stress reliever.
Get your mini muffin cups and double them up. We double them up because usually they are pretty thin and this will help hold up the weight of the peanut butter cup.
Melt your chocolate chips in the microwave. Careful, this is hot.
Fill up your muffin cups about 1/5 of the way with the melted chocolate. I also made one white chocolate one because I wanted to show you that you can make it that way too!
Now gather your peanut butter ingredients. Powdered sugar, graham cracker crumbs, peanut butter? Yes, please.
Stir it up until it has a gritty texture.
Then with your fingers (because we are fancy like that) roll them into little balls.
You want the balls to be the size to fit in the middle of each muffin cup but not touch the sides. We are eventually going to pour chocolate over and we want that to go down into the sides. This is like making a moat and the peanut butter is the castle. Great comparison, I know.
Then pour your chocolate on top of the peanut butter, making sure it goes down the sides.
If you have to push any of the chocolate down, use your fingers. This is a great excuse to eat more chocolate.
Then into the refrigerator they go, at least 1 hour until firm. I like to chill mine personally for a few hours, especially in the summer time.
And when it’s time.. you have chilly, firm, delicious Peanut Butter Cups!
When you unwrap them sometimes you will get a perfect chocolate one all the way around…
Sometimes you will get a peanut butter swirl one (I love how this looks).
And if you make it with white chocolate this is how it will look… tastes equally delicious!
Take your 24 mini muffin cups and double them up. You want your cups doubled up to hold the weight of the peanut butter cup.
Melt your chocolate chips in the microwave for 30 seconds. Stir, microwave for another 10 seconds.
Place a small amount of chocolate at the bottom of each muffin cup (about 1/5 of the cup).
Mix your graham cracker crumbs, powdered sugar and peanut butter together until you get a grainy mixture you can roll in your hands.
Make a mini peanut butter ball in your fingers and place on top of the chocolate in each cup. You want to make sure that the peanut butter ball is in the middle of the chocolate, it should still have a slight space around it where we can pour chocolate in.
Take the rest of your milk chocolate and pour on top of each peanut butter ball, getting the chocolate to go down into the edges.
Put in your refrigerator for at least 1 hour or until completely firm.
You can substitute white chocolate chips instead of milk chocolate chips if you'd like! It helps if you put the muffin cups in a muffin pan, this will help with form.
When I first found a great cauliflower pizza casserole recipe it called for pureed cauliflower, but pureeing cauliflower that we grew seemed like a absolute sin to me. I can’t give so much energy and love to our garden cauliflower and then just blend it up, that would be the saddest thing ever. If we were ever to sell produce commercially I would put on every single package a (cute) warning sign that says “YOU MAY NOT PUREE ME, IT WILL MAKE PAMELA VERY SAD, PLEASE LOVE CAULIFLOWER WHOLE. THANK YOU VERY MUCH”. So in my recipe, we cut it into small bite size pieces. I prefer it this way as well as the cheese will get in all the nooks and crannies of the cauliflower. And who doesn’t’ like cheese? Especially with cauliflower. This is a absolute win situation. Here’s your cauliflower. Mine happens to talk.
Here’s your cream, butter and garlic mixture. Pizza always needs a little garlic.
And here’s your pepperoni. I quartered each slice. Do this with scissors, a knife or just tear it apart with your hands.
This is step 1 of the casserole, your cauliflower/butter mixture/pepperoni are all mixed up.
Step 2: Add your pizza sauce.
Step 3: Add your cheese! Be brave, cover this sucker.
Step 4: Pepperoni time. Feel free to eat a few slices too, I won’t tell anyone.
Then into the oven it goes…
And out of the oven it comes! Mamma-Mia!
The cheese is melted, a little bubbly, a little brown. I have pure joy right now.
Then take a few whole basil leave and put it on top. I love pizza with fresh basil.
Cauliflower Pepperoni Pizza Casserole, it’s like having your own garden pizzeria! Major winner here – enjoy!
I thought the weekly round up would be my last post of the week, but when I woke up and looked at the news stations, everyone is saying the same thing: Stay inside this weekend! It’s a hot one in NYC the last few days, but Friday-Sunday seems to be very high up there on the “I’m miserable” charts. You know it’s not looking good for the next day when it’s 88 degrees at midnight. Currently right now it feels like 103 degrees, which I know for some people sounds “normal” but keep in perspective NYC is a walkers city. I don’t get to jump from my AC’d house to my AC’d car to the AC’d store. No, instead I walk from my hot house to the destination. It’s pretty brutal and I have to pull up my dress a few times to dab my sweating belly (let’s be real here). The highlight is when a store has AC and someone goes into it as the doors are opening and you just feel a great breeze. Then it closes quickly and you’re back to sobbing quietly. Then there’s the subways underground, but don’t get me started on them, just imagine very hot and very stinky.
The Weather Channel describes this as a “Sultry Weekly in the Northeast”. They even made this great graphic for their website:
I don’t do too well in the heat. I’m usually laying on our cement flooring telling Matthew I’m going to faint so he should come blow a fan on me, give me ice water and feed me a piece of cold fudge. I’m a bit dramatic, but seriously, it’s hot out. If I go outside, I am known to burn pretty quickly. The garden has hardened me up some and I have a wild shoe tan on my feet but if you leave me out too long, I’m going to burn and blister (and cry). When we would go to the Jersey shore every summer my parents would pour sunblock all over me until I was ghostly white. I would always be required to wear a t-shirt at the beach. My young self didn’t think this was very fashionable but I thank them years later. White sunblock all over my face was a big part of my summer youth….check out that 1 piece bikini too, mixing polka dots with stripes!
I haven’t been outside at all today yet and don’t plan on it until the sun is down so we can jump up to the garden quickly to water. The roof is even more brutal, take some real hot sun rays and add on a silver reflective roof and you are left with a sunburn that will make you cry. Yesterday I went to the garden to tear down the sugar snap peas as it was time. The sugar snaps will be back in the fall, but their summertime run is over. I will do a full post to honor their beauty soon enough! The peas took about an hour to take down, and I was equipped with SPF and water, but 1 hour later I felt the burn. I went downstairs and immediately saw the results which would continue to redden for the next few hours, my scalp, forearms, neck and back were bright red and hurt. Aloe was rubbed into my skin as Matthew shook his head as he always does when I get burned (don’t blame me!). But the sugar snap peas were down.. here’s a before and after.
The sugar snaps ruled this year, and we have been eating them for dinner a few nights a week with pasta. YUM!
So while I have a Saturday afternoon free, here’s a quick garden update of some pictures I took in the last week. Welcome to the garden!
Our kale plants growing.. one thing I learned last year is that kale does really well in the summer time heat.
This is the kale last year in August. We were pretty surprised by how great it does.
So kale gets washed off…
Then a nice bushel gets taken downstairs for dinner later that night… we made kale pesto, it was DELICIOUS!
The corn has tassels!
The farmers saying is that corn should be “knee high by the 4th of July”. Well folks, I think we’re doing ok!
The 2 squash plants we’re growing with the corn and beans are doing great and starting to snake itself outside of the box.
Speaking of green bean plants, this is the most bushy green our plants have ever grown! (Knock on wood planters).
And we have a winner, one of the plants have made it to the top and started to curl itself around.. good job bean, you win the first to the top competition!
If every single flower turned into a cucumber I would need a refrigerator dedicated to pickles. Here are 3 baby cucumbers which just started
And here you see them in all sizes, small, medium and large.
The cucumbers have completely taken over both sides of the PVC structure. It’s fun to crawl through.
The watermelons are going WILD! This one week..
And here’s one week later. Let’s just say they are letting their presence be known! Everyday I go around counting them as if I just learned how to count because I’m so excited. There’s currently 19 watermelons I spotted! I’ve been “plunking” them with my fingers to listen to their sound to know when they are ready… one is very close!
The one in the middle is the one close… I am very excited! Last year I got some of the best tasting watermelon…
Then I spotted this watermelon which the heat split. I got real sad after I saw this and proceeded to mope around the garden mumbling sad quotes about our beloved watermelon.
We picked this cabbage and ate it for dinner, I love cabbage, don’t you?
Pepper plants, the strong guys of the garden that don’t need any additional help. Just plant them and sing to them and they grow big.
Can you spot the 4 baby peppers just starting in this picture?
Roma tomatoes sometimes start out pear shaped, it always amuses me.
Then they turn into their regular shape.
Big Beef guys.
And a big vine of cherry tomatoes which I’ve been snacking on crazily.
The beginning of July has officially started tomato season for us. It’s that time of the year where a basket always needs to go up to the garden as there is always tomatoes to be picked. Sometimes I look down at my garden shoes and spot little tomatoes in them. Tomatoes, Tomatoes, Everywhere!
Every year this bowl sits on the counter and as the weeks continue it fills up. This bowl eventually turns into 2 bowls, 3 bowls, 4 bowls, and then our entire kitchen island is Tomato City USA. This is how it looked yesterday.
And now it’s going to be even fuller because I just ran up to the garden and picked these tomatoes!
Here’s 2 of our tomato plants.. you can see they are making their way up the 2nd stacked cage!
Here’s our soybeans. Last year I planted a crazy amount of soybeans (50+) so this year I went a little less wild. Edamame – yum!
Lots of orange beauties in there…
Lots and lots and lots of onions. We are going to start another batch soon.
Pumpkin plants. The one to the right is a Jack-O-Lantern which looks great. The one to the right is a Pumpkin Pie plant which looks deadly during the day as it does not deal well with heat. Once the night hits, the plant bounces back but during the day it’s sad to look at.
There are a couple on the Pumpkin Pie plant!
And we officially got our first Jack-O-Lantern of the year! I have been working hard in the early morning to hand pollinate these.
Because of the heat, the containers have been sucking up water. Here is a enthusiastic Matthew watering the corn. Off to the right is the strawberries next to a coffin. I’m going to pretend everything is normal and move along now.
So here is the July 6 garden! Grow babies, grow!
Hope you liked the garden update, thanks for stopping by!
Hope you are staying out of the heat! Eat a ice cream cone!
Does anyone have issues with Target? And by issues I mean crazily in love. I have a Target 2.1 miles away from my house which means it’s a quick walk. It’s also a dangerous walk because by the time I get there I have already typed into my phone anything I could possibly remember to buy. Here’s how the situation goes:
*Goes to Target to pick up Prescription*
*Block 2 walked – adds “vitamins” to the list even though you bought vitamins 3 hours prior*
*Block 5 walked – adds nutella to the list*
*Block 7 walked – adds chocolate chips to the list*
*Block 11 walked – adds iron waffle to the list*
Gets to Target. Buys:
Diet Orange SodaStream (x2 because why not!)
4 pairs of underwear
Things I almost bought:
Waffle Iron (cheaper on amazon, I checked)
Vitamins (I talked to myself out of them because I bought vitamins 3 hours prior)
Carrot Cake Luna Bars (they were all out, I crawled through the bottom shelf ripping it apart but there was no left)
And then when get you get out of the store you worked up such a appetite, you walk for 4 block with a box of graham crackers in your hands instead of holding a umbrella.
Speaking of snacks, does anyone else remember McDonald’s cookies? Back in the day these were my favorite. I randomly thought about them a few days ago and found out that some McDonald’s stills sells them, you just have to ask for them. I haven’t been to a McDonald’s in a very long time, but now this is a good reason to visit.
I made a few batches (help me) of homemade peanut butter cups this week inspired by Baking Joy. I will be posting a chocolate and white chocolate version next week! Your life will be changed.
Does anyone else use NatureBox? Basically it’s a subscription service that sends you snacks every single month. You can be surprised or tell them what you want (they have alot to choose from). We’re kinda obsessed with it as they have the best roasted kettle corns and cheddar pub pretzels. It’s a great deal as if you went to a store to buy these kind of products, you know the price. They have a great selection of dried fruits, granola, baked goods.
We’ve been picking so many cucumbers.. so homemade pickles have been being made and consumed often and quickly this week! Half Sour pickle recipe coming soon!
I’ve been having a pretty hard time eating breakfast the last few days, I’m not sure why. I wake up and I’m just not hungry, but I force myself to eat a oats bars and a banana (and my 2 vitamins). This makes me sad as you know how much I love breakfast.
I made kale pesto with shells this week and it was a big hit. I will be doing a recipe post on this soon too!
I revisited spinach cupcakes this week and used up our last spinach leaves of the season. All I have to say is don’t knock these guys until you try them. You will be shocked by how good and sweet these are and will ask yourself “Where is those 5 cups of spinach I put in?”. This is a great recipe to get kids excited about their greens! One of my favorite garden recipe discoveries….
Here’s the garden this week, in full explosion mode with all this heat (I’m melting, I’m melting). I will be doing some more focused posts on the garden soon.
We also started tomato season.. IT HAS BEGUN FOLKS! Get ready for tomato insanity.
Seriously, it has begun.
We planted seeds for our fall Broccoli and Cauliflower! Always have to be planning ahead…
I found this picture online a few days ago and swooned at it’s beauty! Don’t get those old tree trunks hauled away, grab a chainsaw and use it as a planter! Now I just need to find a tree on the roof…
July showers that end with beautiful light….
I completely agree!
We shot a new project this week, very excited to share.. but it will be a bit of time as post production is super intense. Here I am onset in between shots looking like serious business, in reality I was playing Animal Crossing and trying to sell turnips.
Here’s some of the clothes that were used for the shoot!
Just something you see while walking by on set…
2 troublemakers who play innocent. Brother Bear the boy who does nothing wrong is seen here to the left pretending to be a angel but in reality seconds before this picture I saw him put FiFi Bofinkles in a head lock. To the right the woman in charge of us all, queen of the household, 19 year old Essy Francis waiting behind the refrigerator door to give you a yell if you don’t hurry up with her food.
Speaking of Essy, I believe she made this graphic.
I walked by this store and almost went in, but I had self control. The self control will not last.
I love everything about this house. I also wish it existed with balloons like this.
I am totally stealing this idea, it’s a great idea to keep track of things you need and medicine schedules. I’m going to do a “home” post soon where I show some things we’ve fixed up over the past months…. you will know I love chalkboard paint!
I hope everyone had a great 4th of July! This picture was taken when the fireworks were on the East River, not the Hudson River like they have been for the past few years. City officials have been trying to talk Macy’s into letting the Fireworks off on the East River every other year so all boroughs (like Brooklyn – look at the view we get of them!) and Eastern Manhattan can actually see something instead of little specks in the sky. Maybe next year.
Have a great weekend friends, I hope you get a little time to relax!
Next week I will have some fun recipes and garden posts! Look forward to talking to you then!
Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram for pictures throughout the week.
-It has to be yummy.
-It has to be easy.
-It can’t use the oven.
Every single day when I eat lunch I sit in front of my computer, usually catching up on email or going through my blog reader to see what all my great recipe/garden friends are up to. You know lunch is exceptional when you plan to do this, but the only thing you can do is turn your monitor on before you devour your entire lunch without touching the keyboard or mouse once. This lunch time experience was just me and the stuffed pepper and it was a good one.
These stuffed peppers are:
-Quick and easy. The thing that takes the most time is making the quinoa.
-It doesn’t use the oven. It uses the stove top and the microwave.
-Fresh! Garden pepper and spinach, yum!
Here’s all your beautiful ingredients. Such a pretty lunch we’ll be having!
Hello Mr. Pepper! You are huge, beautiful and delicious. I love you dearly.
Here’s your quinoa with chopped up spinach and garlic. The way I make my quinoa is 1/4 cup dry quinoa with 1/2 cup water. Bring to boil, then simmer and cover for 15 minutes.
After I melt the cheese, I put the pepper top back on. More pepper to eat makes me a happy girl!
If you have any quinoa that can’t fit in your pepper, I just put it on the side. Also, I always put extra tomato sauce on top. I love tomato sauce. When it’s time to start picking tomatoes from the garden this will all be fresh. I can’t wait!
Oh cauliflower, you made my day. My week. My year.
In the past we haven’t had great success with cauliflower. The heads we grew were on the small size, definitely not enough for a meal. There was issues of containers, aphids, hurricanes, frost. There was never a issue of love though, that’s for sure. So this year when everything aligned just right, the broccoli finished growing… and then the cauliflower appeared. It was a beautiful moment. I cheered. I grabbed Matthew’s hand. We danced around the containers. Spectators watched in confusion as I hoisted cauliflower onto my shoulders and paraded them around the roof. The other plants cheered.
I remember where you were just a little seeding baby. Do you remember?
Then one day I saw your little head poke out. My heart jumped.
And do you remember that cold, rainy day where we harvested the first one? I was ecstatic. I might have cried.
I liked to play peek-a-boo with you.
And then there was so many of you.
Some days we would pick 3.
Some days 1.
Some days 2.
And another 3.
Your entire plant is so pretty, look at the bottom. How are you so perfect?
You’re just real great cauliflower, that’s not much more to say.
Thanks for a good season cauliflower!
Cauliflower recipes coming soon!