healthy breakfast: kale and egg bake

Sometimes I embarrass my boyfriend when I rave about how gorgeous the kale is at the farmer’s market. It’s the little things that make my week. Also, a bunch of kale bigger than my head was $1. So, I’ll be eating kale all week, more specifically, kale chips.

Hey, it’s 7:10 a.m. and I’ve already had this healthy breakfast stuffed with kale and egg whites. Don’t let me fool you, I’m drinking coffee with Williams-Sonoma Hot Chocolate mixed in (see my new year’s resolution about honesty?). I made this egg bake the night before and zapped it in the microwave for a minute this morning.

kale and egg bake

Kale and Egg Bake
(Yields: 4; Prep: 7 min; Bake: 20 min)

Ingredients:
– 1 tsp minced garlic
-3/4 c egg whites
– 2 eggs
– 1/3 c almond milk (regular milk words too)
-1 cup chopped kale
– 1/3 cup reduced-fat feta cheese
– salt and pepper to taste

Do it:
-Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
-Beat together egg whites, eggs, and almond milk.
-Mix in chopped kale, feta, salt, and pepper
-Pour the mixture into four ramekins. Fill the ramekins about 2/3 full.
-Bake for 20 minutes.

I covered these with plastic wrap and plan to eat them for the rest of the week.

kale and egg bake Happy Breakfast!

our carved pumpkins

We did the pumpkin thing this weekend.

baby pumpkinsIs it weird to call pumpkins cute?

pumpkins

I love the different shapes and sizes.

And I can’t even express how cool gourds look.

gourds

We went home to carve our pumpkins and saved the seeds for roasting. It’s been a couple of years since I’ve carved a pumpkin. I forgot how cool they look.

pumpkin carvedI love Halloween. Do you know what you’re going to be? We still have no idea.

samoas bars and the weekend

This weekend sloth truly overtook me. I spent most of my time watching this,

reading this,

kindle

snuggling him,

watson

and cuddling her.

riley

Somehow, I managed to bake something, but forgot to snap a photo (update, photo added). You’re going to like this one. Are you ready for it?

samoas-bar

Samoas Bars

Yes, everyone’s favorite girl scout cookie turned into a bar treat. Recipe adapted from here (she took step-by-step pictures).

Yields 20, total time 60 min.

Ingredients:
-1/2 cup sugar
-3/4 cup softened butter
– 1 egg
– 1 tsp vanilla extract
– 2 cups all-purpose flour
-3 cups shredded coconut
– One 16 oz. jar of  Caramel Sauce (I used Hershey’s, or make your own)
– 6 oz. chocolate chips (plus a bit of olive oil)

Prep:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 13 inch pan.

The Crust First:
1. In a mixer, blend together sugar and butter until well-combined and fluffy.
2. Add egg and vanilla, blend on medium
3. Switch your mixer to low and slowly add in flour, a bit at a time, until it is all combined. The mixture will be really thick, kind of like a dry cookie dough.
4. Pour the dough into greased baking dish. Since it’s thick, it’s hard to spread. You’ll have to use a spatula to get it to cover the entire dish.
5. Bake for 20 minutes.

Toast the Coconut:
Once your crust is done, let it cool and start toasting coconut.  Here’s how I did it.
1. Start by bringing the oven temperature down to 300 degrees.
2. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper
3. Pour three cups of coconut flakes onto the sheet.
4. Place in oven for fifteen minutes. Remove from oven every five minutes to stir around the coconut.

You want the coconut to be nice and golden, not too brown. Once you take it out of the oven, give it a good stir. It will still toast a bit on the sheet. Depending on your oven or the placement of the baking sheet, these will brown quicker or slower than the 15 minutes it took me. Just keep an eye on it.

Melt the chocolate:
1. You can melt the chocolate any way you please: chocolate melter, double boiler, or microwave. I melted mine directly on the stove top at low heat. Add a tiny bit of olive oil, less than a teaspoon, to help it melt and mix well.
2. Once melted, transfer the chocolate into a pastry bag or a ziplock bag to help with the drizzling.

Put it together:
1. The first thing you’re going to want to do is mix the coconut with the jar of caramel sauce in a large bowl.
2. Pour the caramel coconut mixture on top of the crust.
3. Cut the tip of the chocolate pastry bag and drizzle.

This was a hit. I hope you enjoy.

kale chips – my afternoon snack

I was super smart today (like most days) and woke up early to bake some kale chips to munch on throughout the day.

kale chips

They’re one of the easiest things to make, and easy is good in the morning. I use this recipe. I was surprised to discover they stay crispy all day. I hold my chips to high standards, so when you call something a chip, it better have a crunch.

kale-chips
Yep, that’s just me getting an extra serving of veggies in.

two bite brownies

I don’t know why it took me so long to figure this out: brownie batter + petite fours cake pan = super easy and convenient.

I had to make these for a work event. The problem with brownies is they can get really heavy if you transport them in the glass pan. Or they become crumbly, if you cut them into squares and try to transport them another way. Also, I suck at cutting brownies. More brownie ends up on the knife than the plate.

brownies

And then this idea just came to me – put those suckers in the petite fours pan. These are the perfect event food because you can eat it with your hands. Also, since they’re smaller, it cut down the baking time by about 10 minutes.

brownies

Want to know the best part? You can put the finished product in a gallon-sized zip lock bag and throw them in your purse/car/whatever until you need them. They hold their shape really well. Then, take them out of the bag and stacked them neatly on a nice serving platter.

It was one of those moments where I said “Done and Done” while sweeping my hands together. Yep. I’m super cool.

first professional cake and cake balls

I made my first cake for a real event – meaning, not a friend’s party, but a professional one. I’m an event planner for our college and we’re always buying cakes, but my boss said if I’d like to practice decorating, I can make them. I made this one over the weekend.

Cake decorating is not for the faint of heart. Because of a few mishaps, this took a long time. And I held my breath through the entire spelling of “Congratulations.” Then I became lightheaded.

I used a frosting recipe found here. It was a perfect recipe and a major reason for the success of the cake. It was easy to work with and didn’t melt.

The cake was another story. I really am an amateur at boxed cake mixes. They have a mind of their own and defy all laws of baking. The yellow cake had pudding in it, which I completely recommend against. It undercooked, but only in a particular spot. I didn’t notice until I cut off the top of the layer. I put it back in the over for at least 20 minutes, where I risked drying out the rest of the cake. Once baked and cooled, the yellow cake created this weird film (similar to stuff found in pudding) and it stuck to everything, including wax paper. Boxed cake mixes are 1. disgusting and 2. always have holes in the cake (what is with that?).

Maybe I’m just annoyed because I broke a layer. The boyfriend heard me pouting over the broken cake and quickly came over to take a slice, thanking the cake gods for this fortuitous event.

I used the broken layer to make cake balls.

Recipe via Bakerella. I’ve made these tons of times and the experience has paid off. This is probably the prettiest batch. I would really like to find a substitute for the can of frosting you add to these. Any suggestions?

cake ball

It was a marble cake, which looks more chocolate once crumbled and mixed.

Oh, and the cake was a hit. The boxed cake recipe and frosting made a delicious combination. I’m pretty sure no one noticed it was “homemade.”

flowers & cake design: class 1

Hello everybody. I am taking another Wilton Cake Design course. The Wilton classes are broken into three parts: Decorating Basics (complete), Flowers and Cake Design (currently enrolled), and Gum Paste & Fondant. Since it was our first class, we didn’t really get to do a whole lot. But I do have some flowers to show you. Also, I’m realizing there is a lot they don’t tell you on those competitive cake decorating shows, I’ll talk about this in a minute.

Today was my first day working with gum paste. That stuff is a pain. When you’re watching Cake Boss or Ace of Cakes and they work with gum paste, you think it’s super easy. Well, it’s not quite that great. You can’t let this stuff just sit there. Depending on how thick you rolled it, after about three minutes, it will start to harden and you risk breaking your design. We used some type of cookie cutter thing to make flowers. Honestly, these were ugly and I can’t imagine ever wanting to make them again.

I made the purple gum paste by combining gum paste and purple fondant. This took a lot of time and effort. The final result is swirly because I eventually gave up. It’s not so well combined.

This cookie cutter is a Wilton press that came with the student kit for the course. The final result:

The cutter isn’t sharp, so there was a lot I had to pick off to shape the edges. Another thing they don’t tell you on those cake shows, you really have to work to not mix colors. My purples had streaks of yellow and vice-versa.

Next we moved on to pansies, which I think could be pretty edible flowers in a different color.

I’m not sure why we made them two colors. A simple purple would have been just fine. Here they are cut out:

And then we took a ball tool and gave them a nice curved edge.

Then we added some more petals and a stamen [woo flower anatomy!].

So obviously, I could use some practice. But I think I’ll have to make around 30 of these for a final project, so I should be a pro.

Things I’ve learned about gum paste and fondant, or what they don’t tell you on Ace of Cakes:

-It dries super fast.
-It is easy to get dirty. I used an old wooden pie crust roller and there was lint all over my yellow fondant.
-It tastes like junk. Ok, this was no surprise. But it’s ashamed how much work goes into them and how often they’re picked off the cake. This is why I truly prefer butter cream cakes with frosting decorations. Wilton is loaded. So why can’t they find a decent tasting fondant and butter cream? Truly, I didn’t east a single thing from my last course, because the butter cream tasted terrible. The same goes for these flowers.
-A little goes a little way. I spent $10 on Wilton’s gum paste and I only got two colors out of it. I’ve got to find a recipe to make my own, because I can’t afford 3 more classes worth at that rate.

I’ll be back next week with class two.

DIY cardboard shelf tutorial

Happy 100th post to my blog! Thank everyone so much for reading. I can’t believe the amount of views my blog has had this month. It’s more than I could have ever expected. Thank everyone so much for their dedication and enthusiasm for my blog. You guys are great!

In honor of this fun day, I have a DIY post to share.

DIY Cardboard Shelf Tutorial

DIY-Shelf-5

I made this cardboard shelf this afternoon. It took less than two hours and cost next to nothing. Seriously. It’s  great.

Click on the photos to see a larger image.

Learn how to take a simple cardboard box that was almost trash and turn it into a functional shelf for your trinkets. This cardboard shelf measures 5″ deep and 25″ long.

Supplies:

1. Hot glue gun
2. Tape Measurer
3. Big cardboard box
4. Xacto knife or another cutting tool, box cutter, etc.
5. [Optional] Cutting mat, very helpful, but I used some carpeted cat scratcher thing [I’m cheap, er, resourceful]
6.   Paint, if you’d like to paint your shelf

Step 1: Tracing

1. Begin with a box and cut it and lay it flat.

box1
2. Measure out the desired length you want your shelf to be. This one is 5″ x 25″.
3. Create a rectangular pattern using these measurements. Be sure to keep the pattern lines as straight as possible.

D.I.Y. Cardboard Shelf Tutorial

D.I.Y. Cardboard Shelf Tutorial

2. Cut your pattern

Cut out your first rectangle of cardboard using your box cutter or Xacto knife.

D.I.Y. Cardboard Shelf Tutorial
Now you’re going to trace out two more cardboard rectangles. You can use the first one as a pattern.

D.I.Y. Cardboard Shelf Tutorial - Trace
Cut out all three.

During this time, you can also cut out the base of your shelf, which should measure 3 inches wide by 25 inches long. [not pictured.]

3. Trace & Cut Shelf Braces

You will also need to cut a few more pieces from the cardboard. These will be the braces or stabilizers that connect your shelf top to the base.

D.I.Y. Cardboard Shelf Tutorial - Draw Shelf Braces
Measure out a triangle brace that is 3 inches wide and 3 inches deep. Make the width and depth meet at a right angle. Connect them with a straight line across the middle. Cut one out and use it as a stencil for your next ones.

D.I.Y. Cardboard Shelf Tutorial - Cut out Brace Pieces
You will need to make 8 total.

D.I.Y. Cardboard Shelf Tutorial - Cut out Brace Pieces

4. Glue the Braces Together
Now you’re going to want to glue two of the braces together, giving it a double-thickness. This will result in four reinforced braces. I used hot glue to do this.

D.I.Y. Cardboard Shelf Tutorial - Glue Braces Together

5. Glue the Shelf Pieces Together
Next, using the hot glue gun, glue the three cut-out cardboard pieces that are the length of your shelf. The three layers of cardboard will give it some strength.

D.I.Y. Cardboard Shelf Tutorial - Glue Braces Together

6. Trim the edges

If you are like me and terrible at cutting, you might need to trim your edges, so that they are smooth. Now is the time to do so. It’s really important to the stability of this structure that every edge be straight and even.  (Tip, if you use a thin blade, the cuts will be smoother).

D.I.Y. Cardboard Shelf Tutorial - Trim Edges

7. Assemble the 3-Layer Shelf to the Back Base

Next, assemble the three layer shelf to the back base.
Have the hot glue gun ready and loaded. Mine sort of dried half-way through applying the glue.
Using the hot glue, connect the shelf to the top of the base at a 90 degree or right angle.
Hold and press down until it’s completely cooled.

D.I.Y. Cardboard Shelf Tutorial - Glue


D.I.Y. Cardboard Shelf Tutorial - Glue
Side notes: See that light shining through at the center of the angle? That’s because it wasn’t cut straight. I had to sort of seal it with hot glue. This tells me it probably won’t be as structurally sound as I want it to be.

8. Assemble the Braces to the Back and Top of Shelf

Next, add the braces for reinforced security.

Start on the two edges. Glue the corner of the braces into the corner of the shelf. Press them in deep to add security.

D.I.Y. Cardboard Shelf Tutorial - Add BracesD.I.Y. Cardboard Shelf Tutorial - Glue Braces
Once you secure the outside two, then add the inside two, placing them in equal distance apart in the middle.

D.I.Y. Cardboard Shelf TutorialD.I.Y. Cardboard Shelf Tutorial

9. Smooth Edges and Paint

Smooth out the edges with a pair of scissors or your knife.

Paint your shelf if desired.

D.I.Y. Cardboard Shelf Tutorial - Paint

10. Mount & Decorate

Finally, mount your shelf on a wall and display your hard work! I mounted with nails, but half way through I thought double sided tape would work.

shelf2

shelf3

I would have preferred to put another coat of paint on this, but I ran out. I wouldn’t put a book on this, but it’s perfect for display of tiny things or candles.

shelf4

shelf5

There you have it! I hope you enjoy this tutorial.

Here’s a link to a downloadable/printable .pdf file of this tutorial via my instructables account.

Stay tuned tomorrow to see what I do with the leftover cardboard. Yes, there’s leftovers.

make your own sugar body scrub

Still thinking of what to get your best friend, sister, or mom for Christmas?

Make Your Own Body Scrub

You will need:
White Cane Sugar
Raw Sugar, Turbinado Sugar, or Brown Sugar
Cinnamon
Oatmeal
Sea Salt
Baking Soda
Olive Oil
Jars or Plastic Bags

First, I decided on how much I wanted to make. The easiest way to do this, is place all of the ingredients into the container you plan on using.

sugar2

I wanted to make two jars full.

Here are your proportions. I added half white sugar and half brown sugar in each jar. Then I added about two table spoons of cinnamon to each jar. Then I topped each jar off with about 1/4 cup of oatmeal.

sugar31

Sugar and oatmeal are great for your skin, they both exfoliate and nourish.  The cinnamon adds a lovely smell, you can substitute the cinnamon with an essential oil, if you’d like. You could also throw in some vanilla extract, but I was out.

Then I poured both jars into a mixing bowl. Once in the mixing bowl, I added about two tablespoons of baking soda and a 1/4 cup of sea salt. Baking soda clears up acne and sea salt is also a great exfoliant and provides your skin with minerals.

sugar4

Now mix it together.

sugar5

Once you’ve thoroughly mixed this, it’s time to add the olive oil. Olive oil ads moisture to the scrub. Just be aware that I used a lot of olive oil for this mix, and that stuff isn’t cheap. I used about a cup. However, I was making a large batch of this. Start adding in the olive oil a few tablespoons at a time.

sugar6

It’s really important that this mixes thoroughly into every ingredient.

sugar7

Eventually your mixture will start looking more like a moist scrub.

sugar8

You want it to have a gooey texture, like cookie dough.

sugar9

This is the look mine had once it was completely saturated.

Next, scoop it into your jar.

sugar10

And you’re done. All you have to do is add a nice label (unlike my boring labels). You can find tons of free cute label templates online.

sugar11

The cursive is the only thing I have going for me.

Treat a friend to a nice pampering session. The best part about this is that it’s chemical free! There isn’t a need for any warning about getting it in your eye/call poison control/swallow and die. It’s all natural and edible (although not recommended, uh sugar high.) It also leaves your body smelling like oatmeal cookies. I couldn’t believe how awesome the cinnamon and oatmeal made this smell. Feel free to fool around with ingredients and scents, substitute sugars, oils, and flavors. Experimentation is the best part about homemade.