1
Weekly Round Up
2
Braised Lettuce
3
How to Store Your Lettuce Harvest
4
Weekly Garden Update
5
Hiking Up Bear Mountain
6
Lettuce Harvesting
7
No Bake Oreo Birthday Cake Batter Squares
8
White Bean Lentil Dip
9
Growing in a hydroponic home farm – great light or not!
10
Weekly Round Up
11
Confetti Cake Batter Brownies
12
Harvesting Onions and Radishes
13
Cookie Dough Overnight Oatmeal
14
Preserving Strawberries, Kale and Basil
15
Gardening and Cooking in Atlanta
16
Banana, Strawberry, Pineapple Smoothie
17
Weekly Round Up
18
Vertical Growing Green Beans
19
Slow Cooker Pot Roast
20
Sugar Snap Pea Update

Weekly Round Up

Happy weekend everyone!  I hope you all had a great week and will have a greater weekend!
My Windows Phone finally got a  Instagram app so I’m back on it! Make sure to follow me and say hi, I promise many cat and cauliflower pictures! My userame is pamelaz. 

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Let’s celebrate!

Recipes I shared:
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Overnight Blueberry Maple Oatmeal – great for summer.
Braised lettuce – great for leftover lettuce.
White Bean Lentil Garlic Dip – be the favorite person at a party!
Cake Batter Cats – it’s cats and cake batter, does it get better?

Recipes I pinned that I can’t wait to try:
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Creamy Garlic Shells – Going to add some vegetables to this, can’t wait
Slow Cooker Meatball Sub – I love a good meatball sub. 
Soft Pretzel Tots – Perfect snack for sport watching!
Cake Batter Cinnamon Rolls – Perfect Worlds Combined!

Fun things to share:
VSL:  VSL stands for Very Short List.  My friend Karyn is a editor at VSL and I love what they’re doing there.   They send out emails that are each curated by a different person who shares some favorites.  It’s like a Friday Favorites, but not Friday all the time and usually they have really interesting curators.  You’re sure to find some hidden gems such as great links, art, food, apps, etc.  

Game of Thrones LOL: Someone showed pictures of Game of Thrones characters to their dad and asked him their names.  The results are golden.  Favorites:  Nedder, Lord Buccaneer, King of the Guys.

 Dogs Vs Citrus.  Dogs are crazy.

Cats Vs Citrus.  Cats don’t care.

Now the past week and a half in pictures…. Lots of them!

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First – has anyone tried this? I saw it at Target for the first time.

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The summer time is for pig tails and cute accessories.

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Cars, Trucks, School buses that park like this so they’re practically in the crosswalk so you can’t see around it make me very angry.  

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Outsides of houses should always be decorated with cuter inner tubes. 

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Sometimes Blinky our Roomba does crazy things like pushes a cat bed across the entire loft.

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I’m back and forth with my beloved breakfast sandwich and overnight oatmeal. I love them both so much!

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Animal Crossing New Leaf came out.  Is there any Animal Crossing fans in the house?  I downloaded it at midnight.  The game is great.  If you’re a Animal Crossing fan you have to try it!

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The finale of Game of Thrones happened.  Thoughts? I felt kinda underwhelmed.   I mean I guess you have to feel that way when the episode before blew your mind and left you mumbling obscenities.  Game of Thrones – the best show ever? Possibly.   Can you believe we have to wait until April for the next season  Agh.   Who’s your favorite characters? I really like Jon Snow, Bran, Arya, ok I really like the Starks (or what’s left of them).  I also love Tyrion.  I love the Hound too.  And Hodor wins at everything.  Then there’s Jamie who I like alot now too, I hope his friendship (or more?) with Brienne continues.   I have high hopes for Gendry too!  Tywin is evil but he’s also amazing.  Can I say that that Daenerys is boring me, when is something going to go wrong?  If you like Game of Thrones I highly recommend this long video where almost the entire cast, George RR Martin, and the directors talk about the show. 

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Also Game of Thrones was taco night.

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And afterwards I tried a chile pepper kit-kat from Japan.  YUM  I love spicy chocolate so I’m in love with them.

Cat Talk, my favorite kind of talk:

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I met these cats out in the hallway on the way to the garden.  I love them, they’re so friendly, especially that one up front.  

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Xanadu loves a lazy morning.

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Brother Bear loves a lazy afternoon.

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Essy love a lazy evening.

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FiFi Bofinkles love a  lazy.. whenever.

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This is a hole that a air conditioning tube goes into during the summer.  When it’s  not inside, Xanadu uses it as a door.  She walks through it about 8 times in 10 minutes. She’s very unpractical about it.

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Bofinkles doesn’t believe in brainstorming meetings.

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I wake up to this little baby doll under my blankets every single morning. 

Xanadu jumped off the ladder, hoping to make it onto the sea turtle and the tall wall where she could reign over. Unfortunately she overjumped the sea turtle, over the wall and landed on the bed on the other side of the wall. Good job.

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FiFi Bofinkles loves me like noone else.

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My 2 boys, Brother Bear and Matthew.

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We changed the cat’s hard food this week since their beloved Natural Choice brand changed and the ingredients aren’t the same and the reviews aren’t good.  So we are easing them into this Purina ONE brand.  From the first taste.. it seems to be a hit.

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And one minute later, it continues to be a hit.  Do you notice though 2 cats switched places? What just happened?

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Not a cat, but I met this dog outside on the street and immediately after I took this picture the dog tried to kill me.  Which leads me to say again, cats rule.
 

Friends <3

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Our friends Lia and Will got engaged although noone was surprised because we all knew they would.  So happy for them!  So they threw a celebration engagement party.

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There was grilled vegetables and meat. No meat is pictured here.

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There was also alot of yummy food here, including  marinated pork (mmmm). I brought Cake Batter Squares.

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Then there was a going away party for our friends Paul and Cliona who are moving to London.   They will be missed a whole lot.

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There was lots of yummy picnic treats, but check out those cupcakes…

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William has been promising cupcakes for the past year and finally he did it.  Here’s my custom cupcake that was made with edible markers and paper on top.

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Here is William, me and Matthew.  I have no idea what the boys are doing. Matthew also looks like he’s going to pick up that little boy.

This was all bittersweet though because William and Lia, 2 of our best friends not only got engaged but they also are moving to Seattle today.  Weep Weep.  I cried last night. I want to be selfish and keep them here because I love them so much, but they are going to do great things in Seattle and I’m really happy with them.   But I’m  also very sad.  You know how it goes.   So last night on their last night in NYC we made a rainy dinner at Fu Run in Flushing, Queens, home to some of the most authentic and yummy Chinese food.

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There was so much to choose from, and also alot of unknowns.  

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I went with the shrimp and broccoli because you can’t go wrong with it.  It was yummy and I was so full afterwards.

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Other deliciousness at the table was fried eggplant, pork and chives dumpling, fried fish, chicken and broccoli, and wong lo kat which is a herbal tea (and incredibly sweet).

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A big highlight was the Muslim Lamb Chops which are spicy and covered in cumin,  black and white sesame seeds and chile.  The portion is super big. 

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The restaurant also had a random dinosaur so you know it is cool. 

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I’m really going to miss these people.   ALOT.  

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After we said our teary goodbyes on our rainy street, we came home and had a rootbeer float to remember all the good times we had with them.  And to think of all the good times we will have with them in the future. ๐Ÿ™‚

Garden:

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It has rained here so much in the last week which is horrible for pollinating cucumbers, but is great weather for the broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, etc.  Even in the rain we harvested some cauliflower.

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Lots of cauliflower, onion, sugar snap peas, spinach, lettuce harvest going on.  I’ll have a cauliflower post coming up soon with some recipe to go along!

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The tomatoes got their 2nd cages on top.  It’s just wild how big these guys grow!

Work:

We did a video for Snapple to recreate one of their facts: Fact #685: Dogs can make about 10 sounds, cats make about 100.  It went live last week and we were super excited to share it.  Snapple has some great behind the scenes pictures up here too.

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We’ve also testing lots of new technology.  We’re really into somehow incorporating the Microsoft Kinect, and building virtual worlds.  Those are important future goals, especially the virtual worlds.  

We’ve been sharing some experiment videos on Vine this week:

 

So that’s the weekly round up!  Let me know if you’re doing anything fun this weekend.. hope you have a good one! ๐Ÿ™‚

Braised Lettuce

You’ll start to love lettuce once you make this Braised Lettuce recipe!   Braising consists of lightly frying, and then simmering like a stew for full flavor!

I love this braised lettuce.  Love, Love, Love.

As we have been harvesting our lettuce plants, I have been requesting this almost every single night.  Most people use lettuce in salads or as a topping, but  in this recipe you can use it as a entire side dish.   When I first learned about braised lettuce I didn’t think twice about making it because just lettuce as a side, really?   Then I tried it and my opinion changed immediately.  Just like my lettuce soup recipe, this one is a life changer too!

 It’s such a easy recipe consisting of just a few ingredients, but it packs such a hit in taste.   Braising consists of lightly frying, and then simmering like a stew.  Just as you would expect in the greens family, lettuce wilts much, so  as it simmers,  it gets tender.  As it simmers, the lettuce will pick up the garlic and broth.  Your lettuce will be full of flavor.  It’s so great.

Please, please see this past recipe as “just lettuce” and give it a try.

 You'll start to love lettuce once you make this Braised Lettuce recipe! Braising consists of lightly frying, and then simmering like a stew for full flavor!

Braised Lettuce

Ingredients

  • 1 head of lettuce cut up into quarters - washed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • salt + pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Take your washed lettuce head and cut it up into quarters.
  2. Head olive oil and minced garlic in pan over medium heat. Add your quarters of lettuce, cut side down.
  3. Saute until the side is lightly brown. This takes about 10 minutes.
  4. Turn over, add your chicken broth and bring to a slight boil.
  5. Turn down to low, cover and heat for 15 minutes.
  6. Add salt + pepper to taste.
  7. Serve as desired.

Recipe Notes

Bibb or Romaine lettuce works well.
You can substitute vegetable broth for chicken broth.

You'll start to love lettuce once you make this Braised Lettuce recipe! Braising consists of lightly frying, and then simmering like a stew for full flavor!
First, let’s take a minute and admire this gorgeous lettuce we grew.   Sigh.   

You'll start to love lettuce once you make this Braised Lettuce recipe! Braising consists of lightly frying, and then simmering like a stew for full flavor!
This recipe calls for one head, so cut it into quarters so you have 4 pieces.

You'll start to love lettuce once you make this Braised Lettuce recipe! Braising consists of lightly frying, and then simmering like a stew for full flavor!
Lettuce, you are so pretty.  For this recipe I used buttercrunch because that’s what we grow.  You can use Bibb variety, or Romaine – it’s up to you.  

You'll start to love lettuce once you make this Braised Lettuce recipe! Braising consists of lightly frying, and then simmering like a stew for full flavor!
Take your lettuce and put it in a pan with olive oil and garlic.  Make sure you put it cut side down in the pan.

You'll start to love lettuce once you make this Braised Lettuce recipe! Braising consists of lightly frying, and then simmering like a stew for full flavor!
Once it’s slightly golden brown, you’re going to flip it over to the other side.  

You'll start to love lettuce once you make this Braised Lettuce recipe! Braising consists of lightly frying, and then simmering like a stew for full flavor!
Then add your chicken broth.  Alternatively, you can use vegetable broth if you’d like.    Bring to a boil, then put your heat on low and cover for 15 minutes.

You'll start to love lettuce once you make this Braised Lettuce recipe! Braising consists of lightly frying, and then simmering like a stew for full flavor!
When the 15 minutes is up, you will notice how much your lettuce has wilted.  Then you will smell that aroma and smile.  Then you will taste the lettuce and faint.

You'll start to love lettuce once you make this Braised Lettuce recipe! Braising consists of lightly frying, and then simmering like a stew for full flavor!
Who knew, lettuce could be this good? I’m a lettuce believer now. 

You'll start to love lettuce once you make this Braised Lettuce recipe! Braising consists of lightly frying, and then simmering like a stew for full flavor!
You can use this in many ways, feel free to even think outside the box, like putting it on pasta or rice… or a sandwich!

You'll start to love lettuce once you make this Braised Lettuce recipe! Braising consists of lightly frying, and then simmering like a stew for full flavor!

How to Store Your Lettuce Harvest

So what to do when you pull your plant and can’t eat all the lettuce right away?

We know there’s a great range of recipes, but how about we just store some lettuce leaves to grab for salads, burgers and more for the next month?  Lettuce can last that long if you store it right.   I find the best way to preserve lettuce the longest is by washing it,  drying it, storing it in airtight Ziploc bags.     To wash and dry them I use a salad spinner (this is the one I have) and it’s changed my life, I’m not even kidding.  The great thing about the version I have is, is that it’s also a colander, so you can soak it the bowl to wash off your dirt.  Then drain.  Then spin to dry.  After that, I wrap the lettuce in 2 pieces of  paper towel to keep fresh and crisp, then put in a Ziploc bag.  Get all the air out of the bag and close.   Then you’re all set.  Your lettuce will stay fresh for a few weeks.  Also, reuse those plastic bags!

Here’s the steps.

So you pick your gorgeous lettuce – first, a high 5 is deserved!
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First, you want to wash it.  Take apart all your lettuce leaves on the head.  You can fill your sink up with water and push the leaves down, rinsing until clean.  Or if you have a salad spinner, you might have a built in bowl that you can just fill up with water and do the same thing.
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Keep rinsing with water and scrubbing the lettuce every so slightly until all the dirt is off.
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Now it’s salad spinner time.  For the version I have, you just put in the spinner, put the lid on top, press the pump a few times to make it spin around really fast.  Then push the stop button to make it come to a quick stop.  This will make sure the water pushes off the lettuce, drying it.  Do this as many times as you need to until your lettuce is dry.
Here’s a Vine I made demonstrating it.  (click to play if needed). 

Great, we got some gorgeous green lettuce leaves – all dried!
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Then I set them out on a few pieces of paper towel.  I pat them just to make sure there is no excessive moisture on the leaves.
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Then just wrap them, like you are rolling a blanket burrito. 
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Now you want to try to get all the air out of the bag so the lettuce stays crisp.  Do you know the straw trick? It’s one of the many tricks Matthew has taught me.  Zip up the straw in your plastic bag you are using but let the top part out.  Then using the straw, breathe in and suck all the air out.  Keep sucking in until you think you’ve vacuum packed it as much as possible.  Then quickly pull the straw and zip the remaining part up.
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Now your lettuce is stored and will remain fresh for weeks to come!  Pull out a piece whenever you need it.  lettuceIMG_2557

Weekly Garden Update

Hi all. 

It’s a hot Sunday here and just being on the roof, I majorly felt it.  Note to self: Bring sunglasses to the roof, always.  You never do and you are constantly blinded.  You squint and then you immediately get a headache.  It’s really bright up there, the way the sun reflects off the silver roof is intense.  Protect yourself! 

So how’s your garden doing? What’s growing, what’s ending, what’s beginning? 

Here is how our garden is looking in Brooklyn today as it slowly transitions from Spring to Summer…

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Come on in as I give you a guided tour.  The plants are in no particular order, just as I go along the garden.  I’m just saying that incase any of the plants read Brooklyn Farm Girl and think I’m picking favorites – I’m totally not.

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The pumpkin plants have started to grow big, but there are no female flowers yet to pollinate.  I am on the lookout!  These plants will eventually just crawl all over the ground. 

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Watermelon plant is looking the same way, it’s beginning, but no females yet.

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The cucumbers are looking great.  No cucumbers yet to be spotted…

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But I have been mingling the females and males, so hopefully they make some babies.

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We’ve seen some of our worst enemies on the cucumbers this week: aphids.  So we’ve been jet hosing them off this week.  If we keep on top of spraying every single day, it usually helps prevent aphids from expanding their horrible colonies that cause tears.

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Hello giant tomatoes.  

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Remember I posted the tomatoes grow so tall they need 2 cages stacked on top of each other? Well it’s June 9th and the tomatoes have already grown out of their cage.  So the next cage is going on top later this week.  Wild, right?

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There are so many flowers on every single plant which makes me very happy.

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Because these flowers lead to these glorious people.  Hello Roma tomatoes!

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Hello Big Beefs!

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Hello Cherry tomatoes!

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We also moved some of the tomatoes around this week so they are in 2 separate structures.   We put cucumbers between the tomato plants as cucumbers grow low to the ground and tomatoes grow tall, so we’re able to get in there and more easily water, harvest, etc.  

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Here are the pepper plants!

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We already spotted some peppers!

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Random herbs, Rhododendrons, Beautiful weeds.

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The potatoes have exploded.  We’ve been mounding them up the past few weeks but we’re pretty  much at the top of the container now.  Potato plants are hands down one of the prettiest, perfect plants.

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The new radishes came up!

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While some of the older radishes are like “hey lady, pick me”.

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We have onions of all ages.  These ones are big, ready to pick, have been picking a few a week to eat with dinner.

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We picked him to bring to a taco party later this night.

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These ones are mid age, and young ones.  You can see some bulbs forming off to the left, while the ones to the right are still getting there.

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Kale – it just rules.

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The broccoli was all picked this week and let me tell you, it was delicious.  Recipes, Harvest Pictures, Lots of exclamation points coming to a post very soon!

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The cauliflower has shown up and is causing us great happiness.

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The cauliflower is just beautiful.  We had a steamed head for dinner a few nights ago and we ate it in silence because it was that delicious.

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I am picking strawberries every single day!  They are the sweetest!

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Sometimes I can’t even make it downstairs and I’m just taking them off the plant and they go straight in my mouth.

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Strawberries, you guys are real pretty.

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We got some strawberry runners already too.  Last year we turned the runners into their own plants.  

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Carrots!

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You cannot tell because it’s in shadow but there is some orange peeking out!

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3 sisters boxes! Corn, Squash and Beans!

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The corn is looking great, it’s about 1 foot high, if not slightly taller.

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The green beans have started their climb up the fence.  You can see we have 2 leaders already. Who will reach the top first?

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We picked all our lettuce heads, but there is lettuce greens left.  I need to cut them before they bolt.

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Sugar snap peas!  They were just babies a few weeks ago, and now they are taller than Matthew who is a little over 6 feet tall.  I love these sugar snap pea guys.

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The box is just full of them – all over!

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So we’ve been happily snacking on them and are planning some great upcoming dinners with them!  They are absolutely delicious just picked right off the plant and eaten right away, what a crunch!

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Sugar Snaps, I love you.

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Hope you enjoyed the garden walk through this week!

Happy Gardening! Wear sunglasses and sunscreen. ๐Ÿ™‚ 

Hiking Up Bear Mountain

A few days ago we rented a Zipcar and headed upstate to Bear Mountain for a adventure.  We have talked about doing a nature hike for quite sometimes but it’s never happened.  I was in for a surprise because my idea of what it was going to be turned out to be exactly not that.  I was expecting a dirt trail that I would have to occasionally walk over a tree root.   And the trip started out that way for the first few steps, then suddenly I started  to notice more and more rocks.  And next to those rocks was a steep hill that I had to shield my gaze from.  Steps later, I realized this was no easy walk, what now stood in front of me was big rocks, boulder size that I was going to have to climb up, with  my weak arms.   With all the rocks and figuring out how to climb exactly, where to put your legs, what to grab onto, it’s a serious mind adventure puzzle.  

The trail we took is called the Major Welch Trail and in some spots it’s very steep and very difficult.  Here are some facts about it:
Average Climb Time: 4 hours
Length: 4 miles
Elevation: 1200 feet
On hiking websites the trail is described as “Strenuous”.  Matthew told me it was labeled as “moderate” before we started.  He totally lied  to me.
At one point you climb a vertical distance of about 500 feet in little more than a quarter of a mile.  You ache!
Has amazing views.
Makes your heart beat very fast!

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I have never done anything like this in my entire life so needless to say after sweating, having a red face, huffing and puffing, I felt like a fearless wizard after we reached the top.  It was a personal achievement of exhilaration.  If I could bottle up that feeling,  I would have.

It was a great trip!

Here are some photo taken along the way. 

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First, Shudder came along for the hike.  On the ride up there we listened to a radio station that was doing throw back rap tunes.  Shudder was feeling it.

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When we arrived at the park we took a seat next to the lake and ate a quick lunch of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

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One duck floated by.  He was camera shy and immediately turned around when he saw me. 

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We then decided we needed a Snickers bar for some more energy.

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This was before the hike.  Behind me, Bear Mountain.  Are you ready for this?

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Here is the map.  We started out near the Hessian Lake and then you loop all the way to the tip top.  On the way down you take the Appalachian Trail.

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Ok, to the right, let’s get on the trail.

It started out pretty simple, this is how I thought it was going to be the entire way.  I was so naive.  Note: I found a walking stick 1 minute in, I love walking sticks now.

 

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We passed a little stream.

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Then it turned into more rocks, where did the smooth ground go?

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Up past this is the toughest part as it’s about 500 feet straight of vertical hiking.

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Our path quickly turned into big boulders.  

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Along the way we saw some beautiful flowers, like these Mountain Laurels.  It was hard to really take in the scenery….

 Climbing
When I had to figure out a way up this!

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There are markers on the trees to keep you in the right path but sometimes there is  alot of space between them which could get you lost if you take a wrong turn.

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Then we made it to this lookout point. I thought that was it!

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See how happy I am?

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Then Matthew told me we were HALF WAY there.

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It was during this time that we heard some Cicadas too.  Then we spotted this cocoon.

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And more on the trees.

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Then we spotted some alive ones.  Aren’t they beautiful?

Ok back to hiking…

 Pamela Hiking
This one was tough, real tough.  I’m pretty sure Matthew was shocked that I did it.  I was shocked too.

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Then hours later, we finally made it to the top where there is a lookout tower which is not exciting at all, except this Bear on the wall.

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I  made it! Shudder and I were thrilled!

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High 5!

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The views from the top of Bear Mountain are beautiful.  I said “oh my” about 24 times.

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I nearly cried of happiness.  What a great hike up! 

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We ate a quick snack of dried fruits, nuts, corn and a banana.

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After a little more viewing , we said goodbye to the beautiful scenery…

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And headed down the Appalachian Trail.

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The hike down is much smoother.

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There’s lots of rock “stairs” and some small bridges you cross.

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When we finally got to the bottom of the trail I left my walking stick there, hoping that someone else will come along and use it for their positive adventure!

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Bear Mountain, you were lots of fun.  Thanks for the happiness!

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I hugged the only bear I could find.

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Then we drove back to the city, stopping in a small town for one ot he greatest (and coldest) vanilla milkshakes ever.

Hope you enjoyed the hike!

Lettuce Harvesting

This is the time of the year we always pick our lettuce, and I begin googling “What else to do with lettuce besides salads” like a crazy person.  I like to try new things!   (Make sure you check out my lettuce soup recipe too!)WP_20130527_043

I’ve posted about this before but I grew up not liking lettuce.  It wasn’t actually until a few years ago that I embraced lettuce.  That’s another thing a garden does to you, it guilts you into trying every single thing.  Well I just grew that lettuce and it was hard work, so I’m definitely going to eat it.  Wait, what happened.  This lettuce actually tastes good.  No way, it tastes way good.  Oh my, let’s grow another head of lettuce.  Soon before you know it, you have harvesting multiple heads of  lettuce, sitting in a corner, eating lettuce leaves whole while wigging your nose like a bunny rabbit.

Here are lettuce ideas:

  • Substitute your bread or taco shell for lettuce. 
  • Make your sandwich as usual, then just roll it up!
  • Make lettuce soup. (recipe coming soon!)
  • Saute it.
  • Braised lettuce (recipe coming soon!)
  • Add it to any soup for a great soupy green. 
  • Make a layered taco salad. 
  • Substitute lettuce in Chinese dishes (for example: use lettuce instead of bok choy). 
  • Cut up small pieces of mozzarella and halved cherry tomatoes, roll in a piece of lettuce.  This is a great appetizer or snack. 

 

While the lettuce is getting to a healthy size, we cut off a few outer leaves as we need them.  Having a cheeseburger? Few leaves get removed.  Salad? Few more.  Just be sure you aren’t cutting too many leaves  off one plant while it matures.  You still want it to remain sturdy and leafy. WP_20130524_021.jpg  

Then when the plant looks mature, I find it best to pull the entire plant.  You want to make sure your lettuce does not go to seed (start to get flowers and bolt) as it will make your lettuce bitter.  When it starts to get very hot out, I know it’s going to bolt quickly, so I keep a close eye on them.  This one is ready to pick!  Just pull out at the base and keep twisting, it should come out of the ground pretty quickly as lettuce plants do not have deep roots. WP_20130527_044

One lettuce plant, harvested!
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And here’s another!
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Remember when the lettuce was just little babies?
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Then they grew a little bigger.
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To few adulthood!  In just a few months.
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Not to brag, but we grew some pretty cute lettuce kids here.WP_20130527_048

Aren’t they beauties?  It’s like their leaves form perfection. WP_20130527_051

During this day I also harvested some of our mixed salad greens too.. I’m feeling like I want a small salad before dinner tonight.   WP_20130527_009

I harvested some radishes too, this is going to be perfect! WP_20130527_060  

I’ll be making a post on the best way to store your lettuce harvest next week.

Do you have any lettuce recipes? If so, share them! I will be posting my lettuce soup and braised lettuce soon!

No Bake Oreo Birthday Cake Batter Squares

No Bake Oreo Birthday Cake Batter Squares recipe that only needs 4 ingredients. These are my favorite treat with rainbow sprinkles!

The last few days have been really hot in NYC.  Weather that you definitely don’t want to turn your oven on for! So what’s a girl to do when she’s craving pies, cakes, brownies and breads?  2 words “no bake”.    In the summer we should have a rule, only turn the oven on if we are making pizza.  Any blog post that ever has the words “no bake” on it, I will click, read, comment that I love you.. because I truly do.    So let’s embrace these no bake cake batter treats.

No Bake Oreo Cake Batter Squares recipe that only needs 4 ingredients. They are perfect for when it's too hot to bake!

No Bake Oreo Birthday Cake Batter Squares recipe

 No Bake Oreo Cake Batter Squares recipe that only needs 4 ingredients. They are perfect for when it's too hot to bake!


No Bake Oreo Cake Batter Squares recipe that only needs 4 ingredients. They are perfect for when it's too hot to bake! Now look, what we’re about to do might receive gasps from the Oreo community but you have to trust me here.


No Bake Oreo Cake Batter Squares recipe that only needs 4 ingredients. They are perfect for when it's too hot to bake! We’re going to grind them up.  This will take a few batches, I could do about 8 cookies at a time.


No Bake Oreo Cake Batter Squares recipe that only needs 4 ingredients. They are perfect for when it's too hot to bake! Transfer your crumbs to a bowl.  If you taste this – oh my.  You can still taste the creme, but it’s crumbly.


No Bake Oreo Cake Batter Squares recipe that only needs 4 ingredients. They are perfect for when it's too hot to bake! Melt your white chips.  Even though it doesn’t look melted, it probably will be after 30 seconds.


No Bake Oreo Cake Batter Squares recipe that only needs 4 ingredients. They are perfect for when it's too hot to bake! Add your milk. 


No Bake Oreo Cake Batter Squares recipe that only needs 4 ingredients. They are perfect for when it's too hot to bake! Add your rainbow sprinkles.  


No Bake Oreo Cake Batter Squares recipe that only needs 4 ingredients. They are perfect for when it's too hot to bake! And stir.  


No Bake Oreo Cake Batter Squares recipe that only needs 4 ingredients. They are perfect for when it's too hot to bake! Pour into the crumb mixture.  


No Bake Oreo Cake Batter Squares recipe that only needs 4 ingredients. They are perfect for when it's too hot to bake! It’s my version of Yin and Yang.


No Bake Oreo Cake Batter Squares recipe that only needs 4 ingredients. They are perfect for when it's too hot to bake! Then begin stirring it all together.


No Bake Oreo Cake Batter Squares recipe that only needs 4 ingredients. They are perfect for when it's too hot to bake! Note: The mixture is not creamy, it’s kind of rough.  You want it this way as we’re setting it to be hard.  


No Bake Oreo Cake Batter Squares recipe that only needs 4 ingredients. They are perfect for when it's too hot to bake! Have your sprayed 8×8 baking pan nearby.


No Bake Oreo Cake Batter Squares recipe that only needs 4 ingredients. They are perfect for when it's too hot to bake! And add your beautiful cookie mixture to the pan.


No Bake Oreo Cake Batter Squares recipe that only needs 4 ingredients. They are perfect for when it's too hot to bake! With a spatula press down..


No Bake Oreo Cake Batter Squares recipe that only needs 4 ingredients. They are perfect for when it's too hot to bake! So it’s nice and firm.


No Bake Oreo Cake Batter Squares recipe that only needs 4 ingredients. They are perfect for when it's too hot to bake! Add your sprinkles and press down again.  This will make sure they don’t fall off.

Now put foil on top and throw in the fridge for 1 hour.  

Once it’s set take it of the fridge after 1 hour and begin cutting into your squares right away.
No Bake Oreo Cake Batter Squares recipe that only needs 4 ingredients. They are perfect for when it's too hot to bake!


No Bake Oreo Cake Batter Squares recipe that only needs 4 ingredients. They are perfect for when it's too hot to bake! These are just the right size!  


No Bake Oreo Cake Batter Squares recipe that only needs 4 ingredients. They are perfect for when it's too hot to bake! Then freeze them  in a freezer bag. I like to put mine into mini cupcake liners because I was planning to take them to a party later and individually wrapped treats make everyone smile!


No Bake Oreo Cake Batter Squares recipe that only needs 4 ingredients. They are perfect for when it's too hot to bake! Whenever you’re feeling hungry for one, take one from the freezer and pop it into your mouth!  Enjoy it!

No Bake Oreo Birthday Cake Batter Squares recipe that only needs 4 ingredients. They are perfect for when it's too hot to bake!

Frozen No Bake Cake Batter Squares

No Bake Oreo Birthday Cake Batter Squares recipe that only needs 4 ingredients. These are my favorite treat with rainbow sprinkles!

Ingredients

  • 1 package of Birthday Cake or Golden Oreos
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • 14 oz can of sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/3 cup Rainbow sprinkles

Instructions

  1. Get a 8x8 baking pan, spray it with nonstick spray. Set aside.
  2. In a food processor, grind up your Oreo cookies to a crumb mixture. You will probably have to do this in 3-4 batches. Set the crumbs aside in a large bowl.
  3. Melt your white chocolate chips in the microwave for about 30-45 seconds until melted.
  4. Pour in your condensed milk to the chocolate chips and stir until smooth.
  5. Pour 1/4 cup of rainbow sprinkles into the mixture and stir again.
  6. Take your chocolate chips/milk/sprinkles mixture and pour it into your Oreo crumbs mixture.
  7. Stir around until everything is mixed.
  8. Spoon your mixture into a sprayed baking pan and with a spatula press down so it's flat and even across the top.
  9. Add your remaining sprinkles and use the spatula to press these down.
  10. Put foil on top and put in your refrigerator for 1 hour to set.
  11. Remove from fridge, cut into small squares.
  12. Put pieces in a freezer bag, and put in freezer.
  13. Enjoy!

Recipe Notes

If you are making shapes by using cutters instead of squares, I would let you sit this at room temperature for about 10 minutes after taking them out of the fridge. Then cut.

White Bean Lentil Dip

HEALTHY, DAIRY FREE, White Bean Lentil DIP! This homemade recipe is made with dried beans making this extremely cheap to make! Serve it hot or cold with vegetables and chips! It’s one of the BEST Party dips!

Do you tend to buy things at the store and then they get pushed back to back of the cabinet and you forget about them? Ooops.

That’s how I am about dried beans. I love beans.  So whenever I’m in the dried beans aisle, I think to myself “Look at how cheap these are to cans, I should get a few bags, this is a great idea”.  Then they sit in my cabinet and the canned beans get used instead.  It’s a horrible crime, I know.   So when I was cleaning out my cabinets this weekend I found multiple bags of beans that were calling my name.  

My first thought “soup” was quickly erased when I realized that was a horrible idea for the sweltering heat.  My second thought “dip”.  Dip is great, especially on hot days.   It’s great to dip crusty bread in, or carrots.   Or how delicious would it be with these homemade everything bagel chips?    It’s great for a party.  It’s great to snack during the day as bean dip is nutritious and filling.

HEALTHY, DAIRY FREE, White Bean Lentil DIP! This homemade recipe is made with dried beans making this extremely cheap to make! Serve it hot or cold with vegetables and chips! It's one of the BEST Party dips!

This bean dip is easy!  If you don’t want to use dried beans, you can used canned ones, but man,  dried beans are worth the value!    The ingredients in here are navy beans, lentils, lemon juice, olive oil, onion powder, salt, parsley to garnish.. and garlic and a bit of cumin for some kick.

 I bet you have almost all these ingredients already – how much of a win win situation is this?  Because of the garlic and slight hint of cumin, the dip has a bit of a bite to it  – not overwhelming – but it’s there with just the right amount.

HEALTHY, DAIRY FREE, White Bean Lentil DIP! This homemade recipe is made with dried beans making this extremely cheap to make! Serve it hot or cold with vegetables and chips! It's one of the BEST Party dips!

 So let’s get started and dive in…

HEALTHY, DAIRY FREE, White Bean Lentil DIP! This homemade recipe is made with dried beans making this extremely cheap to make! Serve it hot or cold with vegetables and chips! It's one of the BEST Party dips!
Here is my 1/2 cup dried navy beans and 1/2 cup lentils.  The way that I soak these is:  Add your dry beans and lentils together to a deep pot and add enough water to cover beans by 3 inches. Bring to a boil and boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat, cover and let stand for 1 hour. Drain.

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Then you will start adding your ingredients (except olive oil and parsley)  to your food processor.  I love my food processor so much.

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Once you are finished adding your ingredients, then add your olive oil and process more until smooth.  Tip:  The olive oil is going to make it smooth, but you might need some more additional smoothness.  If you do, add a tablespoon of water and process again.  Repeat this step until it’s just the amount of creaminess you want.  

HEALTHY, DAIRY FREE, White Bean Lentil DIP! This homemade recipe is made with dried beans making this extremely cheap to make! Serve it hot or cold with vegetables and chips! It's one of the BEST Party dips!
Take it out of the food processor and spoon into serving dish.  Sprinkle dried parsley on top.

HEALTHY, DAIRY FREE, White Bean Lentil DIP! This homemade recipe is made with dried beans making this extremely cheap to make! Serve it hot or cold with vegetables and chips! It's one of the BEST Party dips!
I like to serve this with little pieces of bread, or baby carrots.

HEALTHY, DAIRY FREE, White Bean Lentil DIP! This homemade recipe is made with dried beans making this extremely cheap to make! Serve it hot or cold with vegetables and chips! It's one of the BEST Party dips!
Then snack away!  Who doesn’t love healthy snacking?

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Bonus points: Take to a party, everyone will love you!

Enjoy this White Bean Lentil Dip!

Pin for later:
HEALTHY, DAIRY FREE, White Bean Lentil DIP! This homemade recipe is made with dried beans making this extremely cheap to make! Serve it hot or cold with vegetables and chips! It's one of the BEST Party dips!

WHITE BEAN Lentil Dip

HEALTHY, DAIRY FREE, White Bean Lentil DIP! This homemade recipe is made with dried beans making this extremely cheap to make! Serve it hot or cold with vegetables and chips! It's one of the BEST Party dips!

Course Appetizer, Side Dish
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings 12

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup dry navy beans
  • 1/2 cup dry lentils
  • 4 clove garlic
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/8 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Dried Parsley to Garnish

Instructions

  1. Soak beans. Add your dry beans and lentils to a deep pot and add enough water to cover beans by 3 inches. Bring to a boil and boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat, cover and let stand for 1 hour. Drain.
  2. Add your beans, lentils, garlic, lemon juice, cumin, onion powder and salt to a food processor. Pulse until all combined.

  3. Add olive oil to food processor and turn on until smooth.
  4. Spoon out and put in serving dish.
  5. Garnish with dried parsley.

Recipe Notes

If you don't want to use dry beans, use one 15oz can navy beans, one 15oz can lentils.
If your dip is chunky, add a tablespoon of water to food processor and pulse. Keep adding until smooth.

Growing in a hydroponic home farm – great light or not!

Alot of friends in the city don’t have much space to garden.  There’s hardly any back yards, community gardens have waiting lines and hauling potting soil to your rooftop is a bit too intense for some people.  But don’t worry – you can still grow herbs and small vegetables right in your home.  It doesn’t even mater if you don’t have alot of light, we can make this work!  Another bonus, since you are growing inside, you don’t have to deal with insects or pests.. but I can’t guarantee your cat won’t want to nibble on that yummy lettuce.  (I had to google cats + lettuce.  What an amazing result:)
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Let me introduce you to my friend, the hydroponic home farm.  Hydroponic growing is a bit different than regular growing as it doesn’t use any soil.  The famous Hanging Gardens of Babylon, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, are believed to have grown according to hydroponic principles, so it’s been around for quite some time!  Instead of soil the roots grow in clay balls.  You want to something like clay (or rock wool) because it allows good root ventilation, and doesn’t grow algae.  This is going to allow your water drip system to drip right onto your plant, run down into the rocks, get your roots wet (causing your plant to grow) and continue down to the next plant.  Because we won’t be getting nutrients from our soil, you will need to use a liquid plant food to feed your plants the vitamins your soil would regularly give you.  These plant foods are easy to find online or at a garden center.    You’ll need light because we  need some photosynthesis action to take place here.  If you have natural light, then set up your hydroponic system next to that light.   If you don’t have natural light you can use a 6500 Kelvin Daylight Balance Fluorescent bulb.   We have grown with these bulbs at the other side of our loft where it’s completely dark and it’s worked well. Now we have it set up next to the window though where we only turn the light on when it’s cloudy out, or during the months when daylight is shorter.   If you can’t remember to turn on your light you can also buy a timer which we often use in the winter time, with this you just set a time and the light will turn on and off when you want it to.  Lastly, you’ll need a aquarium pump which will push your water from your bottom reservoir all the way to the top and that will start the continuous watering.  

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There are already made systems that you can buy, we use a first generation Window Farm which was actually made by someone who attended the same grad school (NYU ITP) that Matthew went to.  If you don’t want to buy it, there are lots of great tutorials online on how to build your own DIY version.  

Because the containers to grow in aren’t huge, I recommend growing smaller plants that do not have giant roots.  We’ve had success with basically every herb, lettuce, spinach, swiss chard and even small strawberries and tomatoes.  We’ve tried experimenting with larger root plants but let’s just say you can’t grow a pumpkin in it. (hey, had  to try!)

The other great thing about growing inside your home is you still get the feeling of outdoors.   When it’s a rainy, gloomy day and you’re feeling a bit blue, you can still mope around your home and smell fresh basil and grab some fresh mint.
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So let me show you how it all works.
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We usually grow everything from seed.  So if you are going this route, just start them in some cups in your home.    The tricky part is when you have to transplant them from their cup to the hydroponic system.  You do this by delicately digging the root out, and shaking all the dirt away.    An alternative is buying herbs that are already started at your local garden center or nursery if you are scared of the whole starting from seeds process.  This is tougher because since they are already larger, their roots are bigger as well, so you need to be careful separating their roots not to tear them.  If you go this route, you really need to shake the roots as there will be alot of dirt attached.  Basically what we want here is the plant and roots, try to get all the dirt you can off.

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Or to make it much easier you can buy hydroponic sponges, where you can just plant the seed in that and put the entire sponge into the cup. 

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Then we add each plant into it’s own little cup and add clay balls. Try to mound the clay balls around the entire plant to support it’s stem.  This is especially important in the beginning stages of the plant.

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Keep adding the pellet balls to the cup until it’s completely full and the plant feels sturdy in it’s new home.

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This cilantro is good to go.

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2 to the left are cilantro, 2 to the right are basil.  Note how small they are now…

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Because just in a few weeks, they will be much bigger and ready for you to start pulling herbs off.

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Always remember to keep your hydroponic system full of water.  The way ours works is there are bottom containers that we fill up to the top with a little watering can.  This can here has a awesome flexible neck so it can bend.   The water will constantly bubble as the aquarium pump is pushing the water all the way up to the top and then trickling down the system. 

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And here is how our plants get their nutrients.   Read the back of each container to know how much plant food to give your system.  I find the least messy way to get your liquid nutrients into the system is to get a syringe, fill it up in the container then empty into each of the water reservoirs.  

Now on to how the plants are doing just a few weeks after being placed in our Window Farm.
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Here’s 2 of our mint plants.  I love these guys because I rip a few leaves off everyday for smoothies and iced tea.

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Here’s one of our 2 basil plants.  We are constantly picking off basil for pizza, sauces and pasta.  I love the idea of just walking a few feet from the kitchen, tearing some herbs and throwing them in the dish.

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And can we talk about how pretty those basil leaves are?

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A word about basil, these guys can grow to be monsters.  Ours grow to be about 2 feet high which means we usually grab some velcro and attach them to the system to keep them supported.   As the plant  matures, it’s roots are going to grow bigger as well and this can cause blockage with the roots for the water to get to the next cup.   This can end up in a overflow water disaster as if there is no place for the water to go, it’s just going to overflow onto your floor.  So keep a eye on your plants and if you see the roots growing through the bottom of the bottle, then act on it.  When I see this, I try to help the roots grow in a better path, or know the plant has reached it’s maturity in this system and just pull the entire plant to use (and immediately start some new seeds! ๐Ÿ™‚ )

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Here’s our beautiful cilantro plant.  We are growing 4 of them.  I use these all the time in salads, bean dishes, tacos, rice.  I love cilantro.  It’s also one of my favorite smelling herbs.  Creepy girl in the supermarket smelling cilantro?  That’s me.  But now I can just creep out  my husband and grow it at home.   See, it’s great for everyone involved!

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It’s pretty fun  to watch cilantro plants expand and get new growth.

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I love you cilantro.  

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Cilantro, Mint and Basil.

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So start grabbing your favorite herbs and get planting!  Great light or not, you can do this! 

What else can you grow besides herbs?
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We’ve grown lettuce with much success.  Just know as the plants get larger they are going to need more water, so keep those containers filled.

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We’ve grown cherry tomatoes which tasted great.

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With larger plants like tomatoes and strawberries, plan accordingly as they are going to engulf your system.  So you might want to keep herbs lower to easily get to them.  (Note here: the pumpkin experiment in the bottom left). (Note here again:  Everything here is grown with no window light, all artificial light, so you can grow even if your home is like a cave!).

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I would like to end this post by thanking my special helper FiFi Bofinkles who stood on the step stool with me the entire time and slept on my feet while I balanced to take pictures.  Thank you girl.

 

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. ๐Ÿ™‚
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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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Scotlandโ€™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 Georยญgia 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 funfetti 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!

Baking Dish Size Matters

If you want ooey gooey Confetti Cake Batter Brownies, your baking dish size matters.   I used a 11×9 dish and I feel this made them just the right amount of soft and gooey that I wanted.  Some readers have used larger pans and they end up more cake like, not fudgy like we want. 

After you spread the batter, put it 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.  This takes around  25-30 minutes, mine took 26 minutes to be very exact.  The time and pan size is important in making them fudgy! 

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!

Confetti Cake Batter Brownies

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

Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword Cake Batter Brownies, Confetti Brownies, Funfetti Brownies
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 12
Calories 124 kcal

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 a 11x9 baking pan with nonstick spray.

  3. Combine cake mix, vegetable oil, egg, and milk into a bowl. Mix with hand mixer. 

  4. Add sprinkles and white chocolate chips, continue to mix until all combined. 

  5. Spoon batter from bowl into baking pan, sprinkle a few more rainbow sprinkles on top.

  6. Bake 25-30 minutes until your edges are slightly brown.  Mine take 26 minutes to be exact. 

  7. Since the brownies are very fudgy, please allow them to cool completely or they will fall apart! ๐Ÿ™‚  After cooling, cut into brownie square and enjoy!

Recipe Video

Recipe Notes

Store in container.

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!

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. ๐Ÿ™‚

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. ๐Ÿ™‚
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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. ๐Ÿ™‚

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! ๐Ÿ™‚

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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! 

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!

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!

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!

How to Make Slow Cooker 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!
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!

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 itโ€™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 itโ€™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.

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!

 

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