Sunday, September 30, 2012

...for a good cause.

When I cut my hair off a few years ago I don't exactly know why I didn't think of donating it until after it was all on the floor--which is too late, it has to be in a ponytail or braid.  I guess I had forgotten, and the stylist's are probably not allowed to suggest it to clients....  After that cut I decided to grow my hair out until it was long, and then if I want to cut it off I couldn't until it was long enough to donate.  (8" for some, 10" for others and 12" for some)

On Thursday I measured my hair and indeed it was long enough to donate.  I called a couple of salons and they would only donate to one specific charity that had a longer requirement than I was willing and really able to give at this time.  So...I had to take it into my own hands. :)  I tied off sections with rubber bands, then measured and cut.  I ended up getting about 9" to donate to Pantene Beautiful Lengths.  The requirement for them was 8" and I went a little over in case I hadn't measured right or something.  
I placed the ponies in a ziploc, then in a padded envelope and sent it on its merry way.  I know it won't cure someone's cancer, but it will help provide a hair piece for someone which is super neat in my book!  I did go to a professional to actually get my actual haircut after I chopped these off.  It's pretty short now, but I think I'm going to dig it.  :)  Especially because it's for a good cause.

This is no way is to pressure anyone into cutting off their hair and/or donating it.  I just wanted to share this experience with my readers.  If you have any questions, comments or concerns please let me know by either commenting or emailing me at:

Friday, September 28, 2012

ADM 2013 Calendar!

Hello!  You can now purchase (at a discounted right now!!!) my 2013 year in NC through my eyes Calendar!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

White Chicken Chili

I never used to be a big fan of chili or beans.  In the last few years I have realized that they are so versatile and comfortning though.  So, when I fell in love with a White Chicken Chili from one of my favorite places in the area I knew I wanted to make some at home.  And here it is.  In fact, I think I like this one better than the one I was trying to replicate.  This is hearty, flavorful and warming from the inside out.  Perfect for fall and winter! :)

White Chicken Chili
2 T. Canola (or vegetable) Oil
1 Poblano Pepper, finely diced
1 Medium Onion, diced
3 Cloves Garlic, minced
1/2 to 1 lb chicken breast, cut up in bite size pieces
1 can Great Northern Beans, rinsed and drained
1 can Navy Beans,  rinsed and drained 
1 can White Kidney Beans,  rinsed and drained 
4 c. Milk
3 c. Water
1/2 t. Salt
1/2 t. Pepper
1/2 t. Chili Powder
1-1/2 t. of your favorite taco or smokey seasoning (you could also use cumin)
1/4 c. Corn Starch
1/3 lb. Monterrey Jack Cheese, shredded

1.  Saute onion, garlic, poblano pepper and chicken, until the chicken has no more pink.
2.  Add beans, milk and water bring to boil.  Immediately turn to simmer once it's boiled.
3.  Add salt, ground pepper, chili powder and taco/smokey seasoning then stir to combine.  Simmer for 30 minutes.
4.  Mix corn starch with a little water to make paste and stir into chili.
5.  Slowly stir in shredded cheese until melted and combined.  Serve immediately or let simmer until ready to serve.  Enjoy!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Weeknight Dinner: Tuna Cakes

Here's a quick, easy and delicious recipe for Tuna Cakes.   Small Can of Tuna yields 3 good sized Tuna Cakes.  Easy to double or triple.
Tuna Cakes:
Small Can of Tuna
1/4 c. Bread Crumbs (either plain or seasoned)
1 Egg
1 T. Water
1/4 c. Veggies, chopped (peppers, onions, etc.)

1.  Heat about 1/4 " of oil in a skillet on medium high.  (I used a cast iron skillet but stainless would work well too.)
2.  Mix together the egg and water.  Add in tuna, bread crumbs and veggies then mix until well combined.  It will be fall apart.
3.  Make "cake like" (thick) patties and place in the heated oil.  Cook each side until golden brown.  Be sure to be careful with the hot oil.  Turn the cakes very slowly and carefully.

Serve with salad, or other sides.  Enjoy!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Patriotic Cupcakes (and Multi-Colored Frosting Tutorial)

So, one friends/co-workers just got her US Citizenship this week.  She's from New Zealand, but has been in  the US for about 10 years now.  She lived in the New England for a while, met her (now) hubby and then he was transferred down to NC about a year ago.  She took the test last month and just had her Citizenship Ceremony on this past Monday.  So, in order to honor her huge accomplishment one of my other co-workers and I threw a little party for her.  I made some very Patriotic cupcakes, and my other co-worker brought the card/gift.  

Now, I really think Patriotic treats are fantastic any time of year.  I love the way that red, white and blue go together to show our love for our Country, support for our Troops and how blessed we are to live here and be free.  So, these are perfect for the 4th of July or Memorial Day of course!  I went all out making them Red, White and Blue inside and out, which was fun but not totally necessary.  You can just use whatever cupcakes you have and them frost them like this if you'd like.  :)  

Here there are....

I used my favorite white cake recipe by Better Homes and Gardens, and the frosting I used on my Mexican Hot Chocolate Cupcakes but I will also post the recipes below to make it easier.

BH&G White Cake Recipe:

  • 4
    egg whites
  • 2
    cups all-purpose flour
  • 1
    teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2
    teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2
    teaspoon salt
  • 1/2
    cup butter or shortening, softened
  • 1 3/4
    cups sugar
  • 1
    teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/3
    cups buttermilk or sour milk

1.Allow egg whites to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, grease and lightly flour two 9x1-1/2-inch or 8x1-1/2-inch round cake pans or grease one 13x9x2-inch baking pan; set the pan(s) aside. In a medium bowl stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
2.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large mixing bowl beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar and vanilla; beat until well combined. Add egg whites 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Alternately add flour mixture and buttermilk to butter mixture, beating on low speed after each addition just until combined. Spread batter into the prepared pan(s).
3.Bake for 20 to 25 minutes for 9-inch pans, 30 to 35 minutes for 8-inch pans or 13x9-inch pan, or until a wooden toothpick inserted near centers comes out clean. Cool cake layers in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes. Remove cake layers from pans. Cool thoroughly on racks. Or, place 13x9x2-inch cake in pan on a wire rack; cool thoroughly. Frost with desired frosting.

(You can also use this recipe for cupcakes, just line muffins tins and bake at 350 degree for ~20 minutes.  Makes about 24 cupcakes. ~Cindy)

My White Frosting Recipe:
1 T. Water
1/2 c. Shortening
1 t. Vanilla
3-4 c. Powdered Sugar
1 T. Milk
            Instructions for Frosting--whip together water and shortening until fluffy.  Add in vanilla and 2 c. Powdered Sugar until combined.  Add milk and mix thoroughly.  Mix in more powdered sugar until it is to your desired consistency   I usually use 3.5c. of powdered sugar in this recipe.

Ok, so I made the white cake batter according to the recipe BUT before I put it in the lined tins I split it into thirds and left one white, colored one red and one blue.  Then I layered them into my cups.  Everyone at work had a pleasant surprise when they bit into the cupcakes!  It was priceless to see their expressions! :)  You could also just swirl in red and blue coloring into the cups before you bake the cupcakes.  (Picture A is layered and B is swirled above.)

Once the cupcakes were baked and cooled, I frosted them using a technique I first learned about on Our Best Bites here.  They only ever did it with two colors tho but i just thought it had to work with three so I did it!  :)  It worked perfectly.  It's kind of wasteful is the only prob...but easy to clean up which is a plus.  

After you make the frosting split into thirds and refrigerate for about 30 minutes. Then keep one white, then tint one red and one blue.  I use paste coloring because it's easier to get a more vivid color, tastes better (to me at least), mixes in easier and doesn't change the consistency of the frosting.  But work with whatever you prefer or have on hand!  :)  I used "rose" for the red and "cornflower" for the blue and I really like the way it turned out.

Ok, now prepare a decorating bag with the coupler and tip like normal and set aside.  Then get three more bags out.  Fill one with the white frosting and tie off with twist tie or rubber band.  Fill one with red and tie off. Fill the last one with the blue and tie off.  Make them lie flat on counter and get air out of them before you cut the tips off.  (You may have to open the end at this point...I didn't have to though, so hoepfully you won't have to.) Cut the tips off, but don't cut too much. Just remember you can always cut more off later, but you can't glue it back on if you cut too much...  Carefully insert one flattened bag at a time into the bag prepared with the coupler until it looks something like this below.  I did red, white and blue, but you can order them however you want AND of course can use this technique for other colors for other seasons, etc...

 Then pull the bag up over the ends and decorate like normal.  I am still totally digging the really large tips and couple I recently got.  Makes frosting cupcakes go SO fast!  I like the faux rose technique most of the time...  Love the way it looks in red, white and blue...
 Another the way the colors are a little different each swirl that comes out!
 Yep, can't get enough of it....  btw these were all take with either my phone or Rocket Scientist's phone because I needed to charge my camera....  Love that phones are finally having pretty great cameras these days!  :)

Anyway, happy Independence day!  or Citizenship day!  or Patriotic day!  or Memorial day!  :)  God bless the USA!

Mexican Hot Chocolate Cupcakes (or Cake)

Our Adult Sunday School class had a get together last night and it was fiesta themed.  So I had the perfect dessert idea for it, Mexican Hot Chocolate Cupcakes! I really enjoyed the way they turned out too.  (Which is always a plus.)  I went ahead and made a regular batch (~26 cupcakes) and sent half with the hubby for his co-workers, and took the other half to our dinner.

I tweaked Better Homes and Gardens Chocolate Cake recipe and then also put a Mexican twist on it.

Here's my recipe, Mexican Hot Chocolate Cupcakes:
2-1/4 c. Flour
1-3/4 c. Sugar
1-1/4 c. plus 1 t. Water
1 t. Baking Powder
3/4 t. Baking Soda
1/4 t. Salt
2/3 c. Shortening (or butter)
2 Eggs
2 oz. Unsweetened Chocolate, melted
1 T. Cocoa Powder (heaping)
1-1/2 t. Vanilla
1-1/2 t. Cinnamon (Any works, but my favorite for this recipe is this one from Savory Spice Shop)
Additional Cinnamon for sprinkling on tops of frosted cupcakes

Frosting:  Your favorite white frosting, buttercream or this...
1 T. Water
1/2 c. Shortening
1 t. Vanilla
3-4 c. Powdered Sugar
1 T. Milk
(Instructions for Frosting--whip together water and shortening until fluffy.  Add in vanilla and 2 c. Powdered Sugar until combined.  Add milk and mix thoroughly.  Mix in more powdered sugar until it is to your desired consistency   I usually use 3.5c. of powdered sugar in this recipe.)

For cupcakes beat together shortening and sugar until combined.  Add in baking powder, baking soda, salt and eggs until combined.  Then mix in vanilla, melted chocolate, cocoa powder and cinnamon until combined. Finally, alternate mixing in flour and water until all combined.

Pour into ~26 cupcake wrapper lined tins, one 9x13" pan, two 8" round cake pans or two 9" round cake pans.  (Cake pans should be prepared with grease and flour before the batter is poured in.)

Bake cupcakes for 20 minutes at 350 degrees or the cake/s for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

Cool on wire racks, then frost with desired frosting.  Once cooled and frosted sprinkle a touch of cinnamon on top! (As pictured below)  :)

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