Archive for May, 2011

May 31, 2011

graduation party

I’m still in the process of detoxing from my grad party ;).  It seems as if I have been going non-stop since last Friday, and I apologize for the lack of posting over the weekend.  I’m slipping back into a more normal routine now.  I actually biked to yoga this morning (I am without a car this week), and I feel so much better.  I haven’t practiced for a couple of weeks and I could definitely tell with how tight my back has been feeling!  Can’t go so long without going again!

I’ll start out by giving a little overview of my graduation party which was this past Sunday, and then go through the details throughout the week ;).  You can see some of the non-baking/cooking preparations here as well.

We started the party later in the evening, I knew I wanted to have a bonfire but did not want to entertain too long haha, so the party started at 6:30 which ended up being a really good time.  It gave us plenty of time during the day to make last minute preparations, clean and get everything set up.  It also helped avoid the dilemma of not knowing what to serve for dinner!

On the invitation, I put appetizers, cocktails and desserts and we mostly went along with that.  The main addition to the list was the PB&J Bar we put together – loved it.  We also had a variety of hummus (hummi for plural? ;) ), salsa, guacamole and plenty of dippers.

And of course a party cannot be complete without a cake and other desserts!  I loved how the cake turned out!

And finally, what’s a campfire without S’mores?  These got put together and taken out to the bonfire.  Unfortunately not too many of these got eaten because of all of the wonderful cake!  But they will definitely keep for our next bonfire!

I don’t have any pictures of cocktails, it was mostly pre-bottles beverages but I also concocted a little sangria to serve which ended up being delicious and oh-so-easy.  I used white zinfandel (although I think a darker red wine would work great as well), and topped it with a little sparkling water and simply orange juice.  I just garnished with one orange sliced up and it was good to go – and perfect served over ice!

Stay tuned for more in-depth details on all the party components :).

May 30, 2011

the 80’s are here again

It was in the mid to upper 80’s today.  In my mind I have been waiting for it to finally warm up enough so that I’m not continually cold all the time, but once the heat finally hits I am just never ready for it!  Living in Wisconsin, we only have about 2 months of summer as it is, and this year it has been even worse so far.  I feel like we maybe have only had around 5 truly nice spring or summery days.  Well, summer did in fact hit today (curious as Memorial Day is the unofficial start of summer), and I have a nice little sunburn to go along with it.  At least I am no longer the color of paper…

One thing that is hard for me to do in the summer, especially when the air conditioning is not quite ready to be turned on, is to bake.  I tried out this recipe a little over a week ago (no baking involved!), and it turned out magnificent.  Definitely a keeper.

Decadent Date & Pecan Brownies

adapted from a recipe posted on Earth Balance 

  • 2 cups raw pecans
  • 2 cups chopped and pitted dates
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder* (Trader Joe’s worked awesome in this)
  • 1/2T agave syrup
  • 1/4t sea salt
  • water

1. Put pecans in food processor and pulse until they’re in small pieces.  Add in the dates and pulse a few times, or until incorporated.

2. Add in the cocoa powder, agave, sea salt and about 2-4T of water (to hold mixture together).

3. Press into a 9×9 (or similar) baking dish.  Put in the fridge.

  • 1/4 cup(s) of agave syrup
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1T natural peanut butter

4. In a blender, process agave, almond milk, cocoa powder and peanut butter until smooth.

5. Pour the topping over the brownies and set in the refrigerator.

Along with being a no-bake recipe, these are also raw, gluten-free and vegan, but I don’t think anyone could ever guess!  These are incredible rich brownies, so be sure to have a nice glass of unsweetened vanilla almond milk to go along side!

*In a repeat making of this recipe, I used Hershey’s Dark Chocolate Cocoa Powder.  I do not recommend using this cocoa powder in the recipe.  The recipe did not turn out like it did the first time and the whole batch ended up in the garbage :/.

May 27, 2011

muffins: cracker barrel style

I remember going to cracker barrel for breakfast quite a bit as a kid.  There was one close to our house at the time and for some reason I just loved going there.  Whether it be the little triangle golf-tee game at each table, playing checkers by their fire place or getting my own pot of hot chocolate “coffee”, there was nothing else quite like it.

I would typically gravitate toward one of their sweeter breakfasts (i.e. wild maine blueberry pancakes), but Kinley always stayed with one particular meal.  A trio of breakfast items featuring a bran muffin, hashbrown casserole and cinnamon apples.  We don’t go to cracker barrel so much anymore, as I don’t believe down-home cooking is that healthy…  But I was able to recreate a bran muffin which she says competes with theirs, albeit a much less greasy version.  I used this recipe as a base, but made quite a few changes to it based on what we were looking for.

These were perfect served next to a bowl of cooked oat bran, and with an additional topping of apple butter or honey apple butter :).

Apple Bran Muffins

  • 1/2 c oat bran
  • 1/2 c graham flour
  • 1/2 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/4 c ground flaxseed (I ground up 1/4 cup whole flaxseed, and it made more than enough for this and the flax egg)
  • 1t baking soda
  • 1 1/2t baking powder
  • 1t cinnamon
  • 1t nutmeg
  • 1 flax egg (1T ground flax + 2T warm water, let sit for 5 minutes and whisk)
  • 1/4 c apple butter
  • 1/3 c applesauce
  • 1T molasses
  • 3/4 c water

1. Whisk all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl.

2. Whisk the wet ingredients together in a smaller bowl.

3. Add wet ingredients to the dry and mix until everything is incorporated.  The original recipe didn’t call for any water – but the batter was super dry so I added it last minute.

4. Scoop into 9 prepared muffin tins and top with a sprinkle of old-fashioned rolled oats.  Bake for 20-25 in a preheated 350* oven.