Birthday foods-5

Ginger fig cake recipe

I recently made quite the birthday meal for my husband, making two of our favorite recipes, and trying out two new ones. I made Food & Wine’s Roasted beets with pistachios, herbs, and orange, Smitten Kitchen’s Swiss chard and sweet potato gratin and Mushroom Bourguinon and this Ginger fig cake, adapted from Kitchen Konfidence. I made the recipe healthier and also added figs and we loved it, so here it is for others to love!

Birthday foods-5 Continue reading

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Bike MS 2015 training is in full swing!

Well, it’s official. I’ve signed up for my 8th annual Bike MS ride and started training 3 weeks ago! For the second year in a row, I’m doing the Sam’s Club Round Up Ride in DFW on the first weekend in May. I had originally planned to choose a different ride, but our schedules this year just didn’t allow it. Plus, they’ve changed up the Sam’s Club Round Up Ride so that it ends in downtown Fort Worth’s Sundance Square on Sunday, rather than ending at the Texas Motor Speedway both days. Thanks to you, I achieved top fundraiser status last year, so that should make this a good year. I haven’t yet set up my fundraising page, but I did have an interesting training ride last weekend that I wanted to share. We were in Dallas to tour some breweries and I took my bike and explored the paved hike and bike trails in the area. There are many miles of bike trails in Dallas, but almost no bike lanes. We stayed right downtown at the Magnolia Hotel and I took off from there Saturday morning. You can see my 41 mile route on Garmin Connect.

I rode along bike routes, which were sharrows, not dedicated bike lanes, down past the American Airlines Center to pick up the Katy Bike Trail.

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The Katy Trail was a popular place to be on a Saturday morning. Luckily, it had two paved sections for most of its length, half of which was for pedestrians only.

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After coming to the end of the Katy Trail, I rode on the streets for a while and passed through Southern Methodist University (SMU).

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Next I came to White Rock Lake, a nice lake with hiking and biking all around it just north of downtown, with some very nice houses over looking the lake.DCIM100GOPRO

Houses along the lake:DCIM100GOPRO

At the north part of the lake, I exited onto the White Rock Creek Trail. It was nice and new in some sections and quite old in other sections. It was fairly flat and not that crowded.DCIM100GOPRO

Saw the Dallas train a few times – the DART.DCIM100GOPRO

After a while I split off on to the Cottonwood Trail, which was a new trail.

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The Cottonwood trail took me under intersection of interstates 635 and 75.

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At the top of the Cottonwood trail, I cut over on some streets to Valley View Park to pick up the north end of the White Rock Creek Trail. I saw a Mini Convertible that had a bike rack just like the one I used to have – including bike and beer stickers on the bike rack!

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The While Rock Creek Trail returned me to White Rock Lake right where I left. The trails along the lake switched between open and closed road and paved trail.DCIM100GOPRO

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It’s small in this photo, but I could see downtown Dallas from a number of places along the lake.DCIM100GOPRO

I left the lake for the Santa Fe Trail by the White Rock Lake Dam. It was a long sloping dam. DCIM100GOPRO

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The trails often had these happy little bike signs reminding people of proper etiquette when sharing the trails.DCIM100GOPRO DCIM100GOPRO

The Santa Fe Trail took me to Deep Ellum, a neighborhood just outside of Dallas that totally reminded me of East Austin. The trail obviously used to be train tracks at one point.

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After the trail ended I had just a mile or two left to get back to our hotel. I found a bike lane on one road, but mostly sharrows. Luckily there aren’t many cars out in downtown Dallas on a Saturday late morning.

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LeafBowls-3

2014 Gifting: Leaf imprinted bowls

Every Christmas, I try to make one or two handmade gifts for my favorite people. One of those gifts is typically an ornament, which I will share with you in time to make your own during the next holiday season :)

However, I did make a gift that isn’t an ornament, and it is this polymer clay dish by Crafts Unleashed. It’s a small, decorative dish that could be used to hold some earrings or something similarly small. I basically followed the method in the post, but used a few different supplies. I bought white Sculpey clay III, which from the review seems to be a bit easier to work with than Premo by Sculpey. I also picked up a really cheap Sculpey clay tool set at Joann Fabrics for the cutting tools, but found that the little white roller worked better than a cheap rolling pin I bought at HomeGoods. The main thing I used the actual rolling pin for was to press the fresh leaf into the clay after it was flattened. The leaves came from a tree in our yard, and I used the ring from a glass jar as a circular cutout. I had a gloss clear coat from previous projects, and a bowl in our cupboard that I could use for this project and then dedicate for future craft projects. I’ve read that kitchen dishes should not be used for polymer clay projects. I made 10 dishes in total.

My supplies:

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Close-ups:

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BabyBib-2

A simple baby bib

A friend recently had a baby boy, and to commemorate the occasion I wanted to make her a simple gift so I settled on a baby bib. This free pattern from Delia Creates was the perfect solution. I love the simple way it fastens – with a little knot that is pulled through a button hole. My friend’s baby shower was Nascar themed, and the baby’s namesake has to do with her alma mater, so I decided on a football theme for the bib in her university’s colors. I was lucky to find the helmet pattern and then used a solid red for the back of the bib. The pattern was easy to follow and went together quickly.

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Hand stamped infinity scarf

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Acorn jingle bell christmas ornaments

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I whipped up these simple Christmas ornaments as gifts for my friends and family. I had the grand idea that we would harvest local acorn caps to use, but they ended up being too small for the bells I found at Joann.

 

They were pretty simple to make. It went something like this:

  1. Find acorn caps to order on ebay since our local caps were too small.
  2. Paint the acorn caps with gold, green, and red glitter paint.
  3. After they dry, glue the bells into the acorn caps. I found hot glue to be the easiest to work with, but reinforced it with some Elmer’s in the gap around the bell, if it existed.
  4. After that round of glue dries, attach matching embroidery thread to the stem by tying it and then add a bit of glue for security.
  5. Once that dries, tie the thread onto a loop of ribbon. I varied the length of thread so that the bells would hang at different lengths.
  6. Optional – add a small coordinating bow to the ribbon loop.

And done!

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PretzelRolls-7

Baking pretzel rolls for Thanksgiving

I haven’t baked any sort of bread that requires yeast in quite a while. That all changed when I read the pretzel parker house rolls recipe on Smitten Kitchen recently. While I don’t have a clue what a parker house roll is (yes, I could look it up), I did know that the rolls sounded (and looked) delicious. Following her recipe, and using the baking soda wash instead of lye, I now have made two batches of these rolls and froze them for Thanksgiving. I’ve taste tested a roll from each batch and can tell you that not only are they easy to make, they are also delicious. I’m not really a fan of kneading dough by hand, so I used my KitchenAid to take care of that part.

The yeast comes alive:

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The dough hook does the hard work:

 

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The dough after kneading:

 

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The dough after first rise – I used a pizza cutter to cut up the dough into 16 kinda equal slices, like a pie, as the recipe suggests:

 

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The dough formed into rolls, prior to the second rise:

 

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After second rise, before washing in baking soda / water and egg rinses:

 

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The finished product – so good!

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CauliflowerTabouli-7

A healthy take on Tabouli

I recently came across a recipe for “detox taboulleh” from Oh She Glows which uses cauliflower rice instead of regular grains. I wanted to try something with cauliflower rice again and I decided to try this recipe. It was well worth it. We paired the salad with flatbread and hummus and it was delicious. Because the recipe was so healthy I made very few changes. I used a bit more tomatoes and onion, a bit less cilantro, and sesame seeds instead of hemp seeds. I also used the shredding blade on my food processor to grate the cauliflower and celery. I used:

Salad ingredients

  • 1 large cauliflower, leaves removed
  • 1.5 pints grape or cherry tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 cups fresh parsley, minced
  • 1 & 1/4 cups finely chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, minced
  • 2 bunches green onions, thinly sliced
  • Optional sesame seeds to sprinkle on top

Dressing:

  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons  extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt

Steps:

  1. Use the grater blade attachment on a food processor and drop cauliflower florets into the machine to grate. Empty out the bowl and use the same blade to grate the celery.
  2. Stir the rest of the vegetables (tomatoes, parsley, cilantro, and green onion) into the bowl.
  3. Whisk together the dressing in a small glass or jar. Pour onto salad and toss to combine, adjusting salt to taste if desired. The flavors are best after the salad has been refrigerated for a while. Sprinkle sesame seeds on of the salad when you’re ready to eat.

The grated cauliflower:

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Adding celery and tomatoes:

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Dressing and salad prior to mixing:

 

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Mixed salad:

 

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Delicious salad with olive hummus topped crisp flatbread:

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All recipes I’ve made from Oh She Glows have been great, I recommend you check her site out!