Author Archives: Sarah

How To Make Your Own Hummus

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How To Make Your Own Hummus

My brother is fond of saying, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away, but a clove of garlic keeps everyone away!”

It’s true. 

That doesn’t stop me from adding generous amounts of it to my hummus though. I sauté it a bit though, to tone down the garlic.

Oops, I’m getting ahead of myself.

Here’s what you need: 1 tablespoon sesame seeds, 2 tablespoons olive oil, garlic, can of chickpeas, salt.

Optional: whole cumin, chili powder, lemon juice 

First I put some sesame seeds in a pan to toast. I like to add some whole cumin also. Sometimes I go crazy and add a sprinkle of chili powder too.

I don’t buy my tahini; I make my own version. Check the ethnic section of your grocery store, as you may be able to buy a bag for less than a dollar. I use about a tablespoon for each batch, and it adds a really nice deep, smoky, savory depth to the hummus.

You can toast them dry, but I have also added a couple tablespoons of olive oil at this point and had it turn out very tasty.

Meanwhile, drain the can of chickpeas, reserving the water. Peel some garlic.

Once the seeds are toasted, add your garlic. There’s no need to chop it, but just be sure they’re about the same size so they cook at about the same rate. Sauté until slightly browned. You will still get garlic flavor, but it won’t be as harsh.

Add the chickpeas to your food processor, then pour the olive oil mixture on top. Puree until smooth, adding the reserved liquid as needed. I prefer to use the liquid when processing, rather than more oil. Saves calories. 🙂

Add sea salt to taste. Add a squeeze of lemon juice to brighten the flavors if desired.

Serve with cut veggies. To make it a lunch, I like to round it out with some carbs like pita bread, pretzels, or pita crackers.

Do you make your own hummus? What do you like to add?

If you’ve never made your own, why not give it a try? It doesn’t cost very much, and you may fall in love with the results!

Flower Garden Cake

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Flower Garden Cake

I am so excited to be able to share this cake with you!

It was a birthday cake for someone really special. Some of her favorite colors are purple and gray, so I used that as my inspiration. 

I don’t know if you’re supposed to have a favorite cake, but this is definitely in the top 5.

I had so much fun playing with the frosting colors.

I used Wilton’s red-red, royal blue, and rose to make the shades of purple and blue. Moss green was used for the leaves. I also used a bit of black to get some grey.

You may notice that I pulled out a Russian piping tip for the purple flowers in the top left.

Then it was time for the fun part- the arranging!!

I LOVE how it turned out!!!!!

Purple and Gray Flower Cake

I also tried something new.

I used a small offset spatula to spackle some green on the sides. 

I love how it turned out. I think it suited the cake well and put the emphasis on the flowers.

I just kept taking pictures of it. 

Here’s another shot.

Ok, I think I’m done now. I just had so much fun with it!! It’s like gardening, but on a cake!

It was a homemade carrot cake with homemade cream cheese frosting. 

What do you think of it? 

Here’s What I’ve Been Up To

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Ever felt scattered, yet stuck in a rut?

It’s not a fun place.

Everyone needs a little variety to shake things up every once in a while.

My variety came on Christmas. 

My husband surprised me with a Cricut Air, and if you don’t know what one is and you are a crafty person, look it up and it will blow your mind. 

In short, it’s a super duper paper cutting machine that not only cuts paper into cool shapes, but can also cut fabric, chipboard, stiff felt, and vinyl for projects. 

I’ve loved being able to make nice cards and envelopes at home.

I recently cut out a ton of hearts and glued them to some string for a banner to go over our fireplace.

Love it.

My husband has had some good changes with his job, and he cleared off our desk for my stuff. My sewing machine is out, and it has been getting a workout. I got it around 10 years ago from my parents as a birthday gift, and I am thankful for the many tutorials on Youtube.

I love my Valentine’s Day pillow covers so much.

There’s still activity going on in the garden.

Here’s a collard plant that volunteered for me.

The sugar snaps are doing well and ready for their trellis!

Oh, and I made a reversible bandana for Leif. Having that sewing machine out and accessible has made such a difference. He’s hoping I won’t make him one with hearts all over it for Valentine’s Day. 🙂

I have many more projects percolating in my brain, and some of them are a surprise for somebody, so they’ll have to wait.

Are you making anything fun? Learning anything new? It’s great!!!

A little bit of gardening

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A little bit of gardening

Not many sugar snap peas made it into the kitchen last spring. 

I soaked these overnight, then planted them in soft soil. I’m hoping they do really well.

I planted some turnips too, but I’m interested to see how much the rain moved those seeds. They’re probably all in one huge congested puddle.

I love the delicate blooms on my alyssum, don’t you? My snapdragons have a while to go before they bloom, but these are are nice blur of color now. I may splurge on some pansies soon.

It seems to be a great year for citrus, and thanks to someone very kind, I have lots of lemons. I have been juicing them and freezing it by the tablespoon in ice cube trays. 

I’ve also made lemonade, and have been enjoying tart lemon water.

The juice cubes will save me some money when I’m canning jam and applesauce this year. 🙂

I’ve also been tossing them in sweet tea and water. 🙂

So good.

Speaking of good…

On New Year’s Day, we had Hoppin’ John for lunch, with greens that I had frozen. It doesn’t look very appetizing, but it was very good, especially with pickled habenero peppers on top, and the vinegar drizzled on top. I’m getting more Southern in my cooking and tastes over time. 🙂

I even have bacon grease in my fridge.

My greens are not ready yet in the garden, but I’m anticipating great things from my cabbage collards. 

My orchid is blooming again on my kitchen windowsill. Makes me feel fancy.

Are you able to do any gardening? Or are you drooling over seed catalogs and carefully planning your garden for next year?

More Cakes with Russian Piping Tips 

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More Cakes with Russian Piping Tips 

I love my Russian piping tips. I wish that I had thought to invent them. Making beautiful flowers is really easy with them.

This was piped using my rose tip, and a Wilton #352 for the leaves. I started with the yellow flowers, then gradually added red to get shades of coral. I get asked to make my Chocamocha cake quite a bit, and coral is my go-to color for decorating the brown mocha frosting.

I love putting flowers at the base.

This cake was a pumpkin spice chocolate chip cake with cream cheese frosting.

I put different shades in the piping bag for the flowers, and followed with some Wilton Moss Green leaves. That’s my favorite green for leaves.

I added a few brown embellishments and a few flowers around the base of the cake. 

Ok, one more Chocamocha cake.

This one is shades of white and yellow. I also used two different shades for the leaves. As you can see, I tried a couple different tips out on this cake. 

If you found this post looking for how to use Russian piping tips, check out my how-to post here.

I also have 5 pointers for beginners here.

I also did a Starbucks cake recently, I’ll have to post that also. 

As you can tell, I have been doing a lot of cakes.

I’ve also been doing some sewing. My husband got me a Cricut for Christmas, so I’ve been having a lot of crafty days. 🙂

Today I want to sew two skirts, make some thank you cards, transplant some cabbage collards, plant a few seeds, and soak some sugar snaps. Love sugar snaps. I’d like to cover my fence in them. 

What are you up to in the post-Christmas lull?

November Planting

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It’s a funny time of year to be thinking about planting. 

My greens are beyond ready for transplant. I started them a while back, and I could actually harvest a few leaves now. 

I’m planning to scratch a few turnip seeds in the ground too. I love turnips.

Snapdragons and allysum are ready for transplant too. I’m excited that I got so many snapdragons. 

Beautiful. 

I have some cakes to share with you later. I’ve made three recently with my Russian piping tips. 

I hope you have a lovely Thanksgiving! 

Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal

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Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal

I’ve been a little obsessed with pumpkin lately.

It started with a blistering pumpkin spice latte. 

Then I tried making it at home.

I have never had a worse cup of coffee in my life.

I also made pumpkin spice cinnamon rolls.

As cinnamon rolls, they were quite good, but the pumpkin flavor was lacking.

I’m going to try again though, and adjust the amount of pumpkin.

My latest pumpkin spice creation has been oatmeal.

This was pretty good, and quite simple. 

I usually make my oatmeal on the stove, but you could easily make this in the microwave.

Add 2 generous tablespoons of pumpkin puree to your water. While you’re waiting for it to boil, sprinkle in some pumpkin pie spice. Then sprinkle in some more. 🙂 

Cook your oatmeal until tender (I prefer old fashioned), add a drizzle of honey, a sprinkle of walnuts and a splash of milk. So good!

This is an easy way to get more nutrition in your already healthy morning oatmeal.

Happy fall!

Let me know if you have any other pumpkin recipes that I should try.

I’ll let you know if I improve on that pumpkin spice cinnamon roll recipe. 🙂

Golden Anniversary Cake

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Golden Anniversary Cake

It’s always a compliment to be asked to make a cake. Cakes are synonymous with celebrations: birthdays, weddings, retirements, and other happy days. 

Although I have been honored by brides asking me to make their wedding cakes, it was a great honor to be asked to make an anniversary cake for a couple who had kept their wedding vows 50 years.

As you may know, that is the golden anniversary.

One of their daughters forwarded me a picture of this cake, but wanted to serve around 30 people.

We decided to do the top two tiers of what had been a 3 tier cake, and to put the rosettes on the bottom.

I baked homemade carrot cakes, and gave them a hearty crumb coat. Skewers were used as support, and a circle of parchment paper was between the two tiers for easy removal.

I used the cream cheese frosting for this cake’s crumb coat, but in the past I have used vanilla buttercream for the crumb coat, especially for square cakes. The buttercream gets very firm in the fridge, and is a good foundation for the weaker cream cheese. 

In this case, the cream cheese crumb coat was sufficient.

I used 5 batches of cream cheese frosting on this cake!

I used a Wilton 1M tip for the rosettes, stacked the top tier, and added the ribbon.

I added a final row of rosettes on top of the bottom tier and placed the topper.

Happy golden anniversary!

Starting Seeds, Kumquat Marmalade, Sand Pears, and Mystery Flower

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Starting Seeds, Kumquat Marmalade, Sand Pears, and Mystery Flower

It’s time for my favorite gardening season – fall! I was able to start some seeds today: dill, cabbage collards, kale, curly leaf mustard, and Black Beauty zucchini. The dill and zucchini are a bit of a gamble, but I think they will do fine in the fall. I’m hoping there is plenty of warmth left for the zucchini.

I’d like to start some flowers next and get them in the ground so they’re ready for the spring: Shasta daisies, black-eyed Susans, and Sweet William.

I’ve been doing quite a bit of baking recently, so maybe I’ll share a couple more of my cakes soon.

It was nice to be outside though.

After the gardening, it was time for a snack!

Kumquat marmalade is my favorite. I think I’ll give myself some for Christmas. 😀

I was given so many sand pears recently. Probably enough to fill two 5 gallon buckets?

I got my apple peeler out and made some sauce. I didn’t make nearly enough applesauce last year, so I’m hoping this will hold us over until I get some apples.

Pear sauce

I made about 3.5 quarts, some plain and some with a little pumpkin pie spice and cinnamon.

I didn’t even bother canning it- I have a feeling it will be gone quickly. I still have enough to possibly make another 8 quarts.

Can anyone help me ID this flower? I didn’t notice any leaves, just a stalk. It’s pretty neat looking, and I don’t think I planted it.

Hope you’re able to do a little gardening this fall!

How to Decorate a Sprinkle Cake

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What can be happier than sprinkles? It’s really hard to be grumpy when you have sprinkles on your cake.

I was recently asked to make a smaller version of this cake from Something Turquoise for a birthday. I’m not nearly as good a photographer as Christa Taylor Photography is, but here are some of my shots of the process.

Did you know you can buy sprinkles by the pound?
I figured buying a gazillion little containers of sprinkles would be pricey, so I bought a whole pound from Amazon.

A pound of sprinkles

It’s about 2 cups of cheerfulness. 

For a sprinkle cake, I thought that funfetti would be the perfect choice for the inside. 🙂

It was a two tier cake, and each tier had 3 layers. The bottom was 9″ in diameter, and the top was 6″ in diameter. I used a total of 4 batches of buttercream to crumb coat and frost the cake.

There are various ideas floating around about how to apply the sprinkles. Some roll the cake in the sprinkles, some use parchment paper and press the sprinkles into the frosting, but I went a different route.

I reasoned that those little nonpareils would stick to freshly applied frosting if I just kinda sprinkled them on the cake. I tested my theory on a swatch of frosting smeared on a plate, and off I went.

After the final coat of buttercream, I took the cake, tilted it over a cookie sheet, and sprinkled the sprinkles over the sides first.

I sprinkled the tops last. I used about a cup of sprinkles for the whole cake.

I made the marshmallow fondant bows ahead of time so they could dry.

Fondant is like Play-doh for grown-ups. People don’t usually even eat the fondant, so maybe bakers should just switch to Play-doh. It is non-toxic, isn’t it??

I used wooden skewers in the bottom tier to support the top tier,  glued the tiers together with a little soft frosting, and kept it refrigerated.

I also put a skewer through both tiers to help prevent shifting during delivery. 

Driving with a cake is the most nerve-wracking part of the whole cake business, in my opinion. Always carry an emergency kit!

The fondant ribbon was added just before delivery. If you refrigerate fondant, it tends to “sweat,” or get shiny with condensation.

A little frosting “glue” to hold the bows on after delivery, and it was done!

How did it taste?

Like childhood.

What do you think? Who do you know that would love a cake like this?