Wednesday, May 22, 2013

German chocolate cupcakes

A dear friend of mine wanted me to make some cupcakes.  While I was happy to do it, I wasn't sure where to begin.  I am by NO means a baker!  If I could make it to graduate school, I'm pretty sure I could manage some cupcakes though, right?

He said he preferred German Chocolate, so I immediately headed to Pinterest for some motivation.  One of my favorite ideas is found HERE.

I decided to keep the cake-mix basic, and focus on making the toppings special.  My favorite part was making the chocolate garnish.  We melted chocolate chips on a glass plate over a pot filled with boiling water, put the melted chocolate in a Ziploc bag and wrapped with a towel.  I cut a whole at the corner and squeezed the melted chocolate on to wax paper in designs.  In to the refrigerator to harden then on top of the cupcakes they go!

I opted for the almond coconut topping and chocolate garnish.  It took so much time with all of the trial and error but we did get there... and he loved them!

Plant Growth!!

Perhaps one of the most exciting things that have happened lately are the quickly sprouting jalapeno plants.  Much like a science experiment I found that different containers had an amazing impact on the growth of the pepper plants.  As I LOVE jalapenos, I want to grow as many healthy plants as possible!  In order for this to happen I have been forced to replant about half of them in other containers.  The plants on the left were shooting up early and steady.  The few in the middle did slightly better in the big tomato can from an earlier post.  The sad plants on the right were in smaller containers.  They struggled a lot as they didn't retain much moisture and did not give room for the roots to spread.  Consequently, they are now all improving in better conditions.  I have chosen to put them all into re-purposed plastic containers that once held spinach.  They are ideal for these pepper plants to grow!

Started from the bottom now we HERE!

Shopping/Banana Nut Bread

The struggle in my home around food is usually surrounding the idea of wasting food.  In an effort to better utilize our blessings, and in the sentiment of my loving father and grandmother growing up, 'to clean my plate', these are the plans to stop wasting food (and money) by using what we have before it spoils.

1.  Shop often.
    There are two kinds of grocery shoppers.  The ones who go to Walmart and buy everything in sight, and the ones who buy what they need as they need it often from the neighborhood butcher etc.  We go to grocery shopping at least three times a week now, often walking.  We get a workout in while getting just what we need for the day.
2.  Buy less.
    Instead of buying food to feed an army, we are buying lesser amounts of food that does not last long or will not be eaten in time.  If we buy less, there is less to eat.  Easy stuff...
3.  Use lists
    I like to use the app on my phone to track online coupons and make my grocery list.  Makes life pretty simple.
4.  Stick to the lists.
    We are working on buying groceries that we sought out to buy only.  It is so easy to get distracted by in store advertisements, candy, and other products that we did not intend to purchase at that time.  This takes some effort on everyone's part.  My son and I remind each other-that's not why we came here! :)
5.  Re-Purpose.
    We like bananas... but NEVER eat them before they spoil.  I decided to figure out what we already had at home to best utilize some browning bananas.  Although my son was completely uninterested in those brown bananas who could not get enough of the banana nut bread I created from them.

6.  Freeze.
    A lot of foods can be frozen in Ziploc bags.  Not rocket science but in a busy household like ours, it often simply gets passed by us before we (I) know it.  I love freezing any veggies I can use for soups or stir-fry.
7.  Use what you have.
    When I grocery shop, I often buy things that are on sale (if they can be easily stored) even though I do not need them right this minute.  Therefore, I often need to remind myself that I have lots of unique ingredients to use and should find a new way to incorporate them instead of being another kitchen decoration.
8.  Eat in season.
    The most unique, natural, fresh, and often-cost friendly produce is that which is in season.  Switch it up and store whatever is leftover for later use if possible.
9.  Only buy on sale.
    I used to buy whatever looked appetizing... until I realized how much money I was wasting.  I'm not a coupon lady.  Never will be.  But... I have a new rule-never buy food unless it is on sale.  Obviously there will be times this rule must be broken when there is a need for something special.  Most of the time, however, I have found this rule is not that hard to keep.