Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The 31st Day of October


It is the 31st of October.
Spooky!
Maybe just a little, 
but around here it's more importantly known as...
Candy Calories Don't Count Day!

Bring on the sugar rush!!


Happy Halloween!

ps...save a Reeses Peanut Butter cup for me!

Monday, October 22, 2012

My Jeans Don't Fit



Cooler temperatures are bad for me...I mean really bad!
Why?
It brings out the baking flu!!
Seriously, all I want to do is bake.
Which in turns means I eat said baking, which in turn means my jeans don't button so well...
Vicious cirlce!

A while back I stumbled across this book in the clearance section at a local store.


As to why it was marked down I don't understand, 
because it is truly one of the best baking tips and resource books I've ever come across. 
Clear text & pictures are great for a beginner and also for someone more advanced.
But, hey my $2, yep you read that right, was very well spent!!

So this weekend, I figured instead of baking something sweet I'd make bread!
I have made bread before, but it's been a very long time.
I used to own a bread maker and while they can be very handy and turn out some nice loaves, 
there is something about bread completely from scratch, made with your own two hands.

So how did it go?

(cell phone picture as my camera battery was dead - I apologize if the quality is a bit low)

I think really well!

That was my first loaf with sunflower seeds, poppy and sesame seeds.
The perfect toasting or sandwich bread.
Eating it reminds me of being a kid, as I grew up eating homemade bread that my grandma baked.
There is something dense and hearty about homemade
 that you just don't get from store bought bread.
No preservatives.
 Flour, yeast, salt, water and a little olive oil...that's it!

I also made a rosemary & thyme loaf, perfect for sandwiches
 or to serve with pasta as a garlic bread alternative.

I think I may have found my new winter hobby!!

What's your favorite thing to bake?



Friday, October 19, 2012

What Do You See?


When you look at the picture below,
what's the first thing you see?

I see a sweet little boy, 
busy playing, who ran over to me to give me a giant hug and say hi.

Is that what you see?



Sadly the first thing that a lot of people see is that the little boy isn't like them, "he's different".
 But is he really?
Yes, he is a little boy with Down syndrome, but he doesn't have a disease.
He runs and plays, laughs and loves, and is loved just like any precious little boy or girl should be.
 He has feelings just like anybody does, and responds accordingly.

As some of  my regular readers know, I work with special needs preschoolers.
And yes, while some of the children certainly have some extra challenges presented to them,
they are preschoolers just like any other.  They love Buzz & Woody and Dora, cars and dolls.
They laugh when you tickle them and they cry when they fall down and scrape their knee.

October is  


There are lots of ways that you can get involved,
 you can find out more here on ndss.

Involvement can be as simple as our own attitude towards people with Down Syndrome.
Remember above all they are people, people with feelings just like you.
They don't want to be called names, just like you wouldn't want to be.
Terms like retarded are hurtful, and simply not cool.

So take a minute and pop over to the ndss to see how you can get involved.
You might just realize that you have something of value to offer.
I can tell you from personal experience that your life will certainly be a lot richer for it.


Monday, October 15, 2012

Pumpkin Heaven


 So I'm kind of a sucker for anything pumpkin.
Pie, lattes, cookies, ice cream...you name it,
I love it!

Lately I've seen a few pumpkin doughnut recipes and I knew I must try to make them.
When I saw one for "baked" pumpkin doughnuts
(yes, insert twinkling lights here)
I knew that was the one!

So here's how they turned out...


 Delicious!!

 And another shot....


They were light and fluffy, moist and just slightly chewy.
I didn't for one mouthful miss any of the deep fried taste or calories
 that you get with a traditional doughnut. 

You will need one of these fancy doughnut pans to get the shape.
I found mine at Homegoods for about $7 and considering it's made by Wilton,
I don't imagine they should be too hard to locate.



So here is my version of the perfect Fall treat tweaked just a bit from here.

I will also give my disclaimer here that I'm not a very good baker.
Well, actually let me rephrase that.
I'm not a traditional, by the rules baker, where you level things off and measure exactly.
I bake like I cook. 
I kind of eyeball most things.
Yes, I am aware that baking is a "science" and technically you need the exact amount of this and that for it all to work out, but so far it's served me well.
So, anyways here's the moment you've all been waiting for.
Doughnuts
(Yields 12 donuts)

  A scant 2 cups of all purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder - not leveled off
Pinch of salt
1-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
Freshly grated nutmeg - about 1 teaspoon
Freshly grated ginger - about 1/2 teaspoon
Pinch of Allspice
(just a note that you could probably substitute Pumpkin Pie Spice for all the spices if wanted)
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup brown sugar - not packed
1 egg
  2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  Approx 1 cup canned pumpkin 
(I doubled my recipe and used a full 15 oz can)
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 350ยบ F
In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, salt, and spices and set aside. 
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; 
whisk oil, brown sugar, egg, vanilla, pumpkin, and milk/cream until combined. 
Add the dry ingredients gradually and stir slowly until combined. 
  Scrape batter in to a pastry bag or a 1 gallon zip bag with a corner cut off.
Fill each doughnut cup about 3/4 full with the batter.
Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until donuts spring back when gently pressed. 
Turn donuts on to a wire rack and allow to cool for a few minutes. 
Cinnamon Sugar Coating
(optional - but I mean really, why wouldn't you)

1/2 stick of unsalted butter melted
1/3 cup sugar
Cinnamon to taste - Approx 1 Tablespoon
Combine the sugar and cinnamon in a shallow bowl. 
While doughnuts are still warm, brush with melted butter and roll in cinnamon sugar mixture. 
They were fantastic warm and the few that actually managed to avoid consumption till the next morning were just as scrumptious with coffee for breakfast.
Just in case you need one more photo to drool over....


So do you love everything pumpkin too?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Fall


 I realize that we Southern Californians are a little late 
joining the Fall party - but yay!!

I do believe it's finally here.
Gone are the triple digit temperatures...bring on the 70's!
(degrees that is - not the decade!)

I welcome with open arms... 

cooler daytime temperatures
hot chocolate
crisp evening air
crunchy leaves on the sidewalk
the occasional rain shower
apples galore




What do you love most about Fall?

 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Noosa


I've had this post waiting in the wings for some time.
Now I'm happy to finally bring it on stage for you!

I came across this brand of yogurt or yoghurt or however you'd like to spell it, 
a while back and fell instantly in love.... I mean really in love!

Have you seen noosa yoghurt ?



 It was at my local market and being a good consumer
ok, well actually just a sucker for trying something new, I bought one.
I opened it and was instantly taken in by the rich creaminess, 
the kind of but not quite Greek yogurt texture and the bursting fresh fruit flavor.
Yummo!
Yes, I know that's a super dorky word, but that's what it is, pure & simple.
It's gloriously rich in flavor, but not at all heavy.

There are a multitude of deliciously fresh flavors and I've tried them all but mango,
which mysteriously is always out of stock when I shop.
I have a feeling my grocer is hiding out back eating them all!
 They say happy cows come from California,
but I live in California and I've never tasted a local yogurt that tastes like this.
So, I think the really blissful cows are hanging out in Colorado, where this lusciousness is made.




So "noosa" you ask?
It's actually a place in Australia, over on the Sunshine Coast.
The yoghurt recipe hails from Down Under but traveled Stateside and is made in Colorado.



So why did I hold out on you and not share?
When I had originally found it, they were really new and their website consisted of, 
well nothing but a homepage with virtually no information. 
Not exactly much for me to share with you.
But no more!

has been updated and is filled with all kinds of information.
The who, the where, the when...you get the idea.

So have you Noosa'd?




Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Wow and Winners!



WOW!!!
Thank you to everyone who took the time to stop by and say 
Happy Birthday
to
The Hairy Peach

Almost 650 comments!!!
That's a new record - thank you!

Friends old & new stopped by...tweeted, blogged and left their thoughts.
The overwhelming favorite thing about birthdays is definitely cake!!
And who can blame you...Yum!

A very special thank you to the 4 great etsy shops that joined in on the celebration with me.

So without further ado...
random generator has spoken and here are the winners:

1. Kelly over at The Pretty Bee
you won the linen tote from Twig Prints


2. Oksana V.
you won the retro notecards from CDesign Illustration


3. Deb A.
you won the mustache mug from The Beautiful Home


4. Lindsey G.
you won the art deco rose tea towel from Lulu and Luca



Congratulations!!

I will be in touch shortly via email with details, so watch your inbox!

Thank you again to everyone, 
and I hope I'll continue to see you around the blog.

Lots of fun posts planned for October,
 so make sure you pop back in!!


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