Monday, April 27, 2009

Carrot (Juice) Cake

The other week I was participating in one of my favorite summer activities - yard-saling - and I found a great find! Brand new, in the box, Hamilton Beach Juicer for $10. The manual had a 1999 date on it - but it works great and had never been used. So, I can juice like it's 1999.

So, of course I came home and washed it up and no fruit or veggie in my kitchen was safe from being grated to a pulp.

Thing I discovered by accident: juicing frozen fruit gives you a really nice frozen drink like concoction on the "pulp" side of the juicer - but makes the engine make unpleasant sounds.

I also thought I'd try out one of the recipes included the juicer manual: Carrot Cake

You juice about 6 carrots. Enough to give you 1/2 cup of juice and 1 1/2 cups of "pulp". I just love watching the juice come out - such fun! (ok, I'm odd)

And the pulp side. . .

Now, set that off to the side and heat your oven to 350. Grease a 9 inch baking dish.
In a small bowl mix: 1 cup flour, 1 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp ginger, 1/2 tsp nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon salt.
In a medium bowl mix: 2 eggs, 1 cup sugar, 3/4 cup veg oil
Add flour mixture, carrot juice, and carrot pulp alternately to the egg mixture.
Stir in 2 teaspoons vanilla.
Pour in prepared baking dish. Bake 35-40 minutes.

I whipped up some cream cheese frosting to top it all off - very yum! (and totally healthy - it's made out of carrots!)

Anybody have a favorite juicer recipe?

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Strawberry Shortcake Trifle

This is the dessert I made for Easter - and I was finally able to use the mini trifle dishes I received as a Christmas present.


Strawberries (I kept some quartered and then mashed some)
Some kind of cake (I used pound cake)
Whip Cream

And then all you do is layer them in the Trifle dishes.

I put the quartered strawberries around the outside and filled the center with a bit of whip cream and the mashed strawberries.

Then cake, then cream, then more berries!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Favorite Things: Cup o' Tea

More often than not lately it seems that it's been raining on the weekends. I decided to embrace the weather and put to use a gift from my secret pal at work.

I received a Loose Leaf Tea Brewing Basket and a can of Organic Orange Blossom Green Tea.

I had never had loose leaf tea before - but it is so good! I feel very sophisticated drinking loose leaf tea too - so that's always fun. ;-) The brewing basket I have is for use with a single coffee mug and the handles are designed so the basket will hang on the edge of the mug. It's very simple to use - you just put in a tsp of the leaves, pour in hot water, put on the lid, and let it steep for a few minutes.

One particular Saturday in the midst of stressful weeks at work I opened the windows so I could hear the rain and my wind chimes and drank hot tea while reading a great book. (David Baldacci's Wish You Well)

A couple of my students asked me on the next Monday what I did over the weekend - and I told them about my rainy day with tea and a book - and they thought that hysterical of course and have asked me every Friday since if I'm going to be making tea that weekend. However, it really is a great way to relax. So, I suggest you get yourself some loose leaf tea and prepare for the next rainy day you're trapped inside. Let the teenagers make fun of you - one day they'll understand the beauty of a quiet day with rain, tea, and a book. :-)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Fun Accessories

I was at a thrift store the other week and found these fun book ends for $3!

At the moment there is not room on my bookshelves for actual bookends - so they're more of decorative accessories - but eventually they will hold up books!

I went and did some googling to find other fun bookends. Here's what I came up with! (I couldn't find mine online anywhere.)
Quote Unquote Bookends - LOVE these. Rather more pricey than my $3 find though. . .
Fish Bowl Bookends - I mean, really, how cool are these? If I didn't think my psychotic cats would eat the fish I'd totally get these!
Book End Bookends - for Captain Obvious
Bean Bags as Bookends - seems like a fun idea!
License Plates Bookends - I certainly see license plate decor everywhere. Not my style but perhaps one of you would like it.
Old Records Bookends - reduce, reuse, recyle, and all that. This would be great if someone had a music/book room.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Favorite Things: Furniture Repair

It's spring break for me and I'm working on a rather lengthy spring-cleaning list. One of the items on the list was furniture repair. My coffee and end tables have been the victims of a few scratches over the past couple of years. However! I've found a lovely cheap fix that actually works! All you need is the marker and a clean soft cloth. If you try this for yourself - make sure you immediately wipe the area you color to get rid of the excess ink - otherwise you may end up with an ink blotch on your furniture.

Furniture markers. They sound like one of those late-night infomercial products - but they do work (mostly).

If you're scrutinizing the table for scratches you will still see them - but scratches that are obvious from the sofa will be no more!

Here are some before/after pics to show you how it works:

(Those first scratches are thanks to cats sliding across the furniture and the latter ones are thanks to a laptop being pulled on and off the table.)
Here is the kit I have - available on Guardsman Touch-Up Pens They come in three shades - though I've noticed other kits that contain more shades.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

adoption update

I can't believe I haven't updated regarding adoption in this long - well, I can - life has been busy!

I took my own advice though to stop trying to figure everything out now though since I know that I won't start the process for at least a couple of years. I've become more interested in doing a domestic foster-adopt - though I haven't done any research on that at all except to talk to a couple of people I know who have gone that route.

It's been a little over a year since I started researching the process. Last year at this time I was sneaking time to read The Complete Guide to International Adoption any chance I got.

I don't have much to say - since I know it's not time for me to start yet I've just kind of been saving money and dreaming and trying not to get my heart set on a country once again - I just wanted to drop in and say hello to anyone who actually reads this.

Chicken-Bacon-Ranch Pizza

Here I am finally with the much-anticipated Chicken-Bacon-Ranch Pizza. Again, we were just playing so there are no measurements - but here's what we did! I'm just going to guess on amounts - I know it was all about equal amounts of stuff plus ranch dressing.

Mix: (this was for a small 8" pizza)

About 3-4 Tbs Feta Cheese (I used basil and tomato flavored)

About 3-4 Tbs finely shredded Mozzarella/Provolone cheese

About 2-3 Tbs chopped bacon

Enough ranch dressing to make it saucy

Spread on pizza crust

Top with grilled chicken

Sprinkle on a bit more mozzarella/provolone

Bake according to pizza crust directions.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Easter Dinner Ideas

My parents are coming over for Easter dinner and I need a menu!

Traditional in my family is ham, fruit salad, mashed potatoes, and devilled eggs. However, I'm not a big fan of ham and I like to mix things up - so I need menu ideas!

I'm thinking some kind of roast chicken (mother's suggestion and I did that last year and it was good)

or -being really different and doing Roast Lamb Leg (this recipe: Lamb with Greens and Feta ) However, I have never cooked lamb before and I don't even know if a local grocer carries it!

Any other main dish suggestions?

Then I'll do some green vegetable, some potato side, and a fruit side - but, again, I'm uninspired.

The one thing I DO know? So making Grandmama's Chocolate Layer Cake for dessert.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

How I Get Away With Shopping Once a Month

A number of you expressed surprised after I mentioned my monthly grocery shopping trip - especially in regards to produce.

These wonders definitely fall under my "favorite things" category.

Tupperware's FridgeSmart Containers. Seriously, they're amazing. Veggies, fruits, and even potatoes last longer in these things and stay fresh!

I hosted a tupperware party last year and earned myself a set of 8 of these - and I absolutely love them. When I had a CSA last year they were so helpful! Speaking of the CSA - I waited too late to sign up this year and missed out. So, my plan is to make the weekly Saturday morning trip to a Farmer's Market in a town over - I'm hoping I will find some good deals there!

I am trying a new budget plan this month which will have me shopping every week rather than once a month - so we'll see how that goes! This week's grocery trip's "big meal" was a variety of home-made pizzas that I made with a friend for a movie night - one of them turned out FABULOUSLY! I'll get pictures and a sort-of-recipe up soon (we didn't measure - but I'll give you estimates and tell you what we did.)