Monday, January 21, 2013

Granola Balls!

I think we've got it all wrong. We should be working two days a week and have five days to play and having fun and work on our projects and bake and whatever else we fancy. I know that's more or less a ridiculous idea, but hey, a girl can dream, right?

I've actually been thinking a lot about work lately, about how this job was always supposed to be temporary, something to get me to the next phase of my professional life, which, in seven and a half years since I graduated from college, just hasn't happened. After contemplating it a little (and freaking out a lot), I came to the conclusion that there are three reasons why I stay at this job, which doesn't satisfy me in the least: #1. The money. Isn't it always a little bit about money when you dislike your job? #2. I DO enjoy working with my brother...most of the time...when he's not throwing office equipment. and #3, the biggest of them all: I don't know what else to do.

Sure, I enjoy certain things that have the potential to become money-making endeavors: photography, writing, baking. But none of them are go-out-and-apply-for-the-job type careers. They take time to cultivate into something that can translate into our mortgage payment. And I've never been patient. And honestly, I have a hard time taking an idea and converting it into action. I get the brilliant beginnings and then they fizzle out, seeming to hit a mental brick wall in my brain.

And now I've started ranting about it and you probably think I have some profound conclusion to present to you now. I've figured it out! Right? But alas, I haven't. All I got for you is a pretty cool recipe for what I'm calling "granola balls." Jim helped me come up with the name. They're kind of my take on like protein or energy balls, but Jim likes to eat granola bars for breakfast, so I told him they're granola balls so the transition would be easier for him.

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Granola Balls!


(yes, they do have an ! at the end)

makes approximately 16 balls...if you don't eat about a ball's worth while you're mixing

1 cup rolled oats

3/4 cup almond butter

1/4 cup flaxseed meal

2 tbps honey

3 tbsp protein powder

handful of chocolate chips

handful of shredded coconut

Mix and mash and smush it all together. Roll into balls. Enjoy!

As for that other stuff we talked about today, I'll keep you posted. I think I'm beyond the freaking out phase and into the lets-get-something-done phase. It's hard for me. But I can do it. Just keep telling myself that, right? I can do it!

 

Any photographers, writers or bakery owners out there have any advise for me on how to run a successful business in those fields?

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Blueberry Lemon Ricotta Pancakes

I've been busy in the kitchen this weekend! Well, busy period, but I somehow found a way to whip up two new recipes for you in the midst of cleaning and planning and shopping and otherwise trying to get our house together. I'll post you an update on the house soon, too, but for now, here's pancakes!
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I decided to make these because we got some lemons in our Farm Fresh to You box and I haven't gotten around to coming up with something profound to make with them, and since they're starting to look a little less than perky, I put them to good use. Jim loves lemons, so I figured he'd enjoy this recipe. And he did.


Blueberry Lemon and Ricotta Pancakes


1 cup all purpose flour

1/2 cup almond meal

1 tbsp baking powder

3ish tbsp flaxseed meal (I like to add it for a little bit of fiber. Go for it. It's good for you.)

1 egg

1 1/4 cups almond milk

1 cup ricotta cheese

1 tbsp vanilla extract (if my husband didn't hate it with all of his being, I would have used almond extract. Feel free to make the change if you're fortunate enough to have the option. I won't blame you for deviating)

zest and juice of 1 lemon, separated

handful of blueberries

powdered sugar

In a large bowl, whisk the flour, almond meal, baking powder and flaxseed meal. In a 2-cup glass measuring cup (or another bowl), whisk the egg, almond milk, ricotta, vanilla (or almond) extract and lemon zest until they're just combined and the ricotta is mostly un-lumpy. Pour the liquid mixture into the flour mixture and mix until just combined. Stir in the blueberries. Cook on a lightly oiled griddle pan in whatever size you prefer. Meanwhile sift powdered sugar into the lemon juice. Add just enough so that it starts to turn a whitish color and gets a little thick. It's just a glaze, and since lemons come in different sizes I can't really tell you how much you're going to need. Let's just say, you're going to keep adding sugar and you're going to think it's too much but it's not. It's okay. Add a little drizzle of glaze between each pancake in your stack and top with extra blueberries...and why not? A little more glaze on top.
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This recipe makes enough for about three pancakes for two people. That was a little too much for us, so we had two each and a bagged the rest for Jim to take to work.

I hope you enjoy these as much as we did!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate for Christmas

This year, Christmas was hard. I already told you that part. I wasn't in the spirit at all and we were short funds because of the house. But we still managed to give everyone something...something I thought was pretty dern awesome. And we made it ourselves.
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We made salted caramel hot chocolate! Jim made the caramel sauce and I made the hot chocolate mix and we wrapped them up together. I even stamped the little cards myself. It was a lot of fun, working with Jim and creating something special to give to all of our friends and family. And honestly, so much less stress than your usual shopping forever, wrapping late into the night and then stressing some more than people won't like their gifts...or maybe that's just me.

Anyway, I thought this hot chocolate was to die for. The caramel sauce was smooth and rich and the hot chocolate was creamy and with the addition of a little something extra, it was more than your average packet of Swiss Miss.


Hot Chocolate Mix


1 3/4 cups unsweetened cocoa powder

3 cups powdered milk

1 3/4 cups powdered sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl. Before dividing the mix up into whatever containers you're using (if you're giving this as a gift), make some up and taste it. Before I got mine right, I tasted it a few times and added more cocoa powder because I like my stuff less sweet than most people, I think. Also, you can add more or even omit the cinnamon. Try other things, too. Pumpkin pie spice would make this a more spicy cocoa. I think it might be delicious to grind up some orange zest to add in. Or maybe some ground up chocolate chips to make it more chocolatey. You can also add more things as garnish.

For the salted caramel sauce, I used Brown Eyed Baker's recipe. I'm going to just send you right over to her page because she does such an amazing job of instructing you on the process, complete with photos. I chose her recipe because she doesn't use corn syrup. Since I had that issue with corn last year, I've tried to stay away from the stuff as best I can. We've made this recipe twice now and it has come out magnificently both times. And it's delicious to boot! I also consulted her recipe (among others) for the hot cocoa mix when I was researching how to make it. Check that out too. That girl is amazing in the kitchen! You can always trust her recipes to come out (which cannot always be said, by the way) and be as delicious as they look in her photos.

Anyway, back to our gifts. We added cinnamon sticks and mini marshmallows as toppers, but as I said before, you can add pretty much anything that strikes your fancy. The hot chocolate powder (minus the cinnamon) would go with tons of different options: peppermint, orange, I might even try pumpkin because I love pumpkin that much.
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A little late posting, but that was our gift to people this Christmas. I think we'll do something similar next year...making something, I mean. It was fun and I think people enjoyed it.

Does anyone else do this for Christmas? Make something for each family and/or friend?