Flower Arrangements and Remembering Alice’s Garden

I have always enjoyed making my own flower arrangements (and of course receiving them). In last few months I put this hobby in overdrive and try to make a new arrangement every week. The best part about making your own flower arrangements is just that, they are your own. If it is for a birthday, Sunday brunch, or your wedding I believe that flowers bring elegance to any occasion.

A quick blog of making flower arrangements is something I have been contemplating and just decided to do following my Trader Joes run.

Please note: I am no flower arrangement expert just a girl who finds joy in the creation and has a grandma who is a great inspiration!  

The Vase

I am a huge fan of thrift store shopping for kitchen ware and vases. I always tend to find unique, fun vases when making my thrift runs. If you are drawn an item for whatever reason, GRAB IT!

Another place I like to get simple glass vases would be Hobby Lobby and the Dollar Tree. Hobby Lobby is great because even if the glass is not on sale in store you can grab the 40% coupon online.

Before going out, knowing which vase you are putting the flowers in will help to determine how many flowers you should get (or at least having an idea of the vase)

The Flowers

There are multiple places that I like to go to find flowers such as the local grocery, Trader Joes, and Whole Foods. When building an arrangement, I try to have at least one white flower with some green filler and/or babies breath. Putting fillers and keeping leaves on flowers helps to make your arrangement look fuller. When it comes to roses and peonies I look for thicker but not fully bloomed flowers.

Rose tip: You can stretch them out to look fuller by gently placing your find within the rose and moving it around a bit.

The Arrangement

  1. Start by taking all of your flowers out of their packaging and spread them out on the table. This will help you to determine how many you have and also the size of them.
  2. Pick you vase or multiple vases and place flowers in them to determine which will be your find pick. Once chosen, you can being to cut your flowers down to size.
  3. Make your arrangement within the vase and once your are happy add flower food and water
  4. Pick the perfect spot(s) in your home for your arrangement. I put mine smack dab in the middle of the kitchen table, as I walk by this multiple times a day and they always make me smile.

Alice’s Garden – Sample Arrangement, photos listed below

It is peony season which in my eyes is the most wonderful time of the year. Peonies remind me of my grandmas (Alice) backyard garden which always seemed to be in bloom. My grandma loves hydrangeas, roses, and peonies which was my inspiration for these arrangements.

List of Flowers*

5-6 Peonies

12 Roses

3 Hydrangeas

10-12 Tulips

*When I bought all of this I knew I would be making multiple arrangements. 

In two large glass vases, wide mouthed

  1. Place one large hydrangea in the middle of the vase
  2. To either side of the hydrangea place one peony (repeat this step on the other side)
  3. Between the peonies, place one to two roses and two to three tulips (repeat this step on the other side)
  4. If you see any spots that could use an additional rose or tulip you can add at this time
  5. Add water and flower food, enjoy the beautiful arrangment!

In one mason jar

  1. Place one large hydrangea on one side of the jar
  2. To the other side of the hydrangea place one peony
  3. Between the peony and hydrangea, place one to two roses and one to two tulips (repeat this step on the other side)
  4. If you see any other spot that could use an additional rose or tulip you can add at this time
  5. Add water and flower food, enjoy the beautiful arrangment!

I like to think that Grandma Alice would be proud of these arrangements, I will be sure to print out this blog post and send her photos!

P_1P_2P-3P-4

Enjoy xx 

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Smothered Quinoa Burritos

Today, you cannot turn anywhere without being told to eat less meat and eat more plant based protein. In these times, the mind has to be creative so the body doesn’t loose its favorite things. What is an easy way to do this? Quinoa! Replacing meat with quinoa is a great way to save a few bucks and steel full after your meal!

Last year, I published a video on how to make quinoa tacos but I wanted to take it one step further. So, the next best thing to a taco? A burrito.. and not just any burrito but a “wet” smothered burrito. Could it be considered enchiladas? EHHHH, maybe? But for today, they are going to be called smothered burritos!

The great thing about this recipe is that you can add whatever ingredients that you want; just be careful not to over stuff because then you are unable to properly role (it is an art, afterall!).

Smothered Quinoa Burritos (4-5)

1 small can enchilada sauce (green or red)

1/4 cup cooked quinoa

1 can of refried beans

1/2 cup of shredded cheese

1/4 cup diced green onion

1 chopped jalapeño

4-5 large flour taco shells

Taco seasoning, pepper, salt, pepper, chili flakes, garlic powder, and onion powder.

Preheat oven to 400

Cook quinoa until done, add as much seasoning as you would like from list above with a pinch of water (so quinoa isn’t too dry), set aside.

Pour ~1/4 to 1/2 c of enchilada sauce in a baking pan and spray with non stick

Each taco shell: smear a spoon full of refined beans across the shell, add a pinch of shredded cheese, add 1-2 spoonfuls of quinoa then top with a pinch of green onions and a few chopped jalapeños. Roll in to a tight burrito and lay in pan. Continue for the next three.

Top the burritos with enchilada sauce and the remainder of cheese, you can add jalapeños to the top too.

Bake at 400 for 15 mins or until the cheese has melted.

Remove from oven and top with green onions.

These are the classic example of the longer it sits the better it gets – the burritos can be enjoyed for up to 4 days after cooking.

If anything, this shows that it pays to switch up your recipes every once in a while! You never know what great discovery is waiting in your cupboard. xx

 

IMG_2816

Chocolate Chip Banana Donuts with Peanut Butter Glaze

It is a Sunday morning, my dog has no concept of weekends or time (typically waking me up around 6:30 a.m. with a cold nose, big eyes, and a need to cuddle), and I have a few bananas that are close to their end. When one is in this type of scenario what do they do? Well, first take out the dog and feed her…that way she is preoccupied before you tackle the next “to do” which is making donuts!

I always try to discover new things to do with old bananas. Yes, banana bread or muffins are a classic that I think all 20 somethings need to know how to make but there has to be more! I saw my donut pan and BAM it hit me…LETS TRY MAKING BANANA DONUTS. To my surprise, there was not a lot out there on how to make baked banana donuts. What I did find was a few recipes that I tweaked and made my own for this breakfast…dessert?…no.. breakfast.

Chocolate Chip Banana Donuts with Peanut Butter Glaze

Donuts

1 large egg

1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/4 cup cup almond milk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 ripe bananas

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2  teaspoon baking powder

1/2  teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon flax seed

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips, additional chips for topping

Glaze

1/4 cup creamy peanut butter

2 tablespoons almond milk

2 tablespoons confectioners sugar

Pinch of salt

In a medium sized bowl, add your flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, flax seed and chocolate chips.

In a mixing bowl, add your egg, sugars, milk, oil and vanilla extract. Once those have mixed, add in your bananas and mix for ~30 seconds (I like to see a few banana chunks). Slowly scoop in, while mixing, the flour bowl. Please, for the love of the Lord, do not over mix. We want these to be fluffy and not banana bricks.

Once this is mixed up, spray your donut pan and slowly add your mixture to the donut outlines. As per suggestion on most websites, try to put your mixture into a sealable baggie and cut a little tip off at the end and pour into donut pant a little less than 1/2 way.

Bake them at 350 for 12-15 mins (being at high altitude I have to change my baking time a bit so do not want to lead you to burnt donuts…thats a do no!). Remove them from the tray and let them cool complete before generously applying glaze (below).

In a mixing bowl (you can clean the one you previously used for the donut mix – save yourself some dishes) add peanut butter and almond milk, giving it a quick spin. Add in your powdered sugar, vanilla and a PINCH! of salt (if you use too much salt it will be overwhelming). Mix until smooth and let sit for 2 mins before dunking your donuts.

You can also top these off with additional chocolate chips if you wish!

Tweaked from Averie Cookies and Crunchy Creamy Sweet

This are so delicious and the perfect way to start off your week! I am planning on having these as my breakfast at work for a few day.

Make sure to pack them in a air tight container – dried out donuts make for a bad start to your day. xx

Donuts

Fiber Filled Fruit Crisp


There are so many different varieties of crisps in the world with everybody’s personal opinion that their aunt, lunch lady, grandpa, or cousin makes the best one. Who makes the best one in my life? Can I be narcissistic, for one of the only times in my life, and say…me? In my book, a good fruit crisp should be crunchy, sweet, and swimming with swirls of cinnamon.

I like to attempt to load all the food I make with healthy items that don’t compromise the taste of the dish but give you that little extra hug of nutrition! For this dish, I use two different types of fiber filled fruit, whole flax seeds, chopped pecans and of course I round it up with oats. Limited amounts of sugar do cut back sweetness but with the warmth of the cinnamon and crunchy topping, you don’t even notice!

Without any further delay, I present to you…

Fiber Filled Fruit Crisp

Large bowl #1 (fruit mixture)

2 firm Asian pears (can use another firm green pear if you cannot find asian pears), some of the skin removed chopped into thumb nail sized chunk pieces

3 firm Granny smith apples, some of the skin removed chopped into thumb nail sized chunk pieces

1 spoonful of lemon juice

1 spoonful of water

1 spoonful of maple syrup

1/4 cup white sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 tablespoon cinnamon (add more, if you wish!)

Pinch of salt

Mix all of these and set to the side aside while you prepare the topping.

 

Large bowl #2 (crumble topping)

1 cup oats

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup flour

1/2 tablespoon cinnamon

3 tablespoons of flax seeds

1/4 cup finely chopped pecans

Pinch of salt

1/2 cup butter or margarine spread, cold but softened a bit

Mix all of these together, minus the butter, until everything is incorporated. Cut and mix in your butter to make into the consistency of sand.

Spray a 9×13 baking dish with non-stick then add your apple-pear mixture, topping it with the crumble mixture. Bake at 375 for 40-45 minutes (keep your eye on it!).

Once the crisp is done cooking, let cool for about 15 minutes before digging in. You can serve it warm or wait until the next day to have it cold. Everybody has their personal preference.

Fun fact: Your home will begin to smells like cinnamon and apples 20 minutes into the baking process. If you really want to make your friends and family smile (other then the fact they get to see you) have this cooking when they come over! xx

crisp

Butter Pecan Brick Cake (distant relative of the Earthquake Cake)

When I say cream cheese you say frosting. CREAM CHEESE. FROSTING. CREAM CHEESE. FROSTING. That is the cheer section that I had going in my head all day while working. (Hey – I get easily distracted when I have a food I want to make, ok!). All weekend I wanted to make an earthquake cake but between finishing a book, taking the little foster dog Lou Lou (photo below) to the vet and trying to get right and tight for a wedding I am in (~30 days) I did not have time to bake my cake.

Earthquake cake is staple at any church gathering, pot luck, baby shower or family celebration. I do not make mine the traditional chocolate cake way but instead with butter pecan cake. Removing the chocolate chips and throwing in some walnuts makes this cake one of a kind. I guess you could consider it a distant relative of the earthquake cake. Which is why I had to rename this cake! I went with butter pecan brick cake due to the brick of cream cheese!

Butter Pecan Brick Cake

1 box butter pecan cake mix

3 eggs

1 cup water

1/2 oil

2 handfuls of chopped pecans

2 handfuls of chopped walnuts

2 handfuls of shredded sweetened coconut

1/2 cup melted butter

3 cups of powdered sugar

1 brick of cream cheese, room temperature

Pinch of salt

1/4 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350

In a medium bowl, prepare the cake per instruction on the box (water, oil and eggs) – set aside for about 5 minute.

In a mixer (you can do this by hand too) add in your cream cheese and melted butter, letting it whip for 1-2 minutes until it is slightly creamy. Slowly add in your powdered sugar (cup by cup), vanilla and salt. Mix until fluffy!

Grab a 9×13 baking dish (can use 8×8 as well to make 2 cakes) and spray really well with non-stick spray. Sprinkle your pecans and walnuts evenly across the bottom of the tray then add your coconut. Once this is done, pour your cake batter over the nut mixture… then tap the pan on the counter to get any air bubbles out. Slowly add your cream cheese mixture on top (eyeball as much or as little that you would want on the cake) then evenly spread out on the cake mixture. If you want, you can mix up the cake and cream cheese mixture a bit too.

Bake uncovered for 40-50 minutes. (Note: it will come out gooey on a toothpick due to the cream cheese.) Let sit at room temperature for 30-45 minutes before serving. Best served when slightly cooled but still warm! Melts in your mouth first to last bite.

So try it out – next time you get that cream cheese craving come back to my little ol’ blog and grab this recipe. xx 

brick-cake

Nutty Banana Breakfast Cookies

Every week I find myself wondering “What am I going to have for breakfast all week?”. I, like many people I work with, fall victim to the quick grab-n-go in the food court. My go-to is a warm buttery croissant….that flakiness…those buttery ridges….I digress.

Going through the grocery store I spotted something that looked like it could fix my issues…that was a banana chocolate breakfast cookie from a popular company that makes many breakfast products. I go to look at the ingredients and WOW! What does half of this stuff even mean?

Ingredients

WHOLE GRAIN ROLLED OATS, HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, WHOLE WHEAT FLOUR, SEMISWEET CHOCOLATE CHIPS (SUGAR, CHOCOLATE LIQUOR, COCOA BUTTER, DEXTROSE, MILKFAT, SOY LECITHIN, NATURAL FLAVORS, VANILLIN [AN ARTIFICIAL FLAVOR]), SUGAR, CORN SYRUP, PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED SOYBEAN AND COTTONSEED OILS** WITH TBHQ AND CITRIC ACID ADDED TO PRESERVE FRESHNESS, MODIFIED WHEAT STARCH, WATER, MALTODEXTRIN, GLYCERIN, DRIED APPLE PUREE, CONTAINS 2% OR LESS OF CALCIUM CARBONATE, 

MONO AND DIGLYCERIDES, NONFAT DRY MILK, NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL FLAVORS, EGG WHITES, SODIUM BICARBONATE, DRIED WHOLE EGGS, SALT, MODIFIED FOOD STARCH, CORN FLOUR, MALIC ACID, SODIUM ALGINATE, CALCIUM PHOSPHATE, VITAMIN E ACETATE, REDUCED IRON, NIACINAMIDE*, PYRIDOXINE HYDROCHLORIDE*, THIAMIN MONONITRATE*, POTASSIUM SORBATE (A PRESERVATIVE), SODIUM PHOSPHATE, RIBOFLAVIN*, VITAMIN A PALMITATE*, CYANOCOBALAMIN*.
*ONE OF THE B VITAMINS
**ADDS A DIETARILY INSIGNIFICANT AMOUNT OF TRANS FAT 

Following this I ran home to see what I could find online to make myself. I stumbled across a few recipes on Pinterest and put my spin on them with ingredients that I know and love.

Nutty Banana Breakfast Cookies 

3 bananas

1 1/2 – 2 cups of oatmeal

1/4 cup of vegetable oil

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon agave

2 tablespoons sliced almonds

1 tablespoon chopped walnuts

4 tablespoons cacao nibs

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Cover a cookie sheet with tin foil and a light spray of non-stick.

In a medium bowl, smush your bananas until smooth then add in the oil, honey, cinnamon, vanilla and cacao nibs.

In a small bowl mix your oatmeal and nuts together. Slowly fold this mix until the banana bowl until it is covered with the ‘wet’ ingredients. Let sit for 5 minutes and then form the balls and place them on the cookie sheet. (~8-10 cookies). Cook for 20 minutes or until desired cookie texture is achieved.

These are ingredients that most of us have laying around the house at anytime and can totally be customized!

This is just another step in my journey of trying to incorporate vegan foods into my life. I hope you show personal strength and turn to these cookies over a croissant. xx

Breakfast cookies

Loaded Veggie Chili

If you live in the Midwest and you hear chili you think of a big ol’ bowl of beans, meat and tomatoes. I have turned that classic recipe on its head. This is a great way to sneak in a bunch of veggies and replace the meat with quinoa. The original cost of meat (~$5.00/LB) covers all of the veggies you will be adding to this dish, with a little extra left over to keep in your pocket.

Loaded Veggie Chili

1 bag shredded carrots

2 sweet potatoes, cubed into 1/2 inch pieces

1 yellow onion

1 red pepper, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

2 cloves of garlic

1 can black beans, drained

1 can chopped tomatoes, in their juices

1/2 cup quinoa

2 cups water

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 chili seasoning pack

2 tablespoons garlic powder

2 tablespoons onion powder

4 tablespoons pepper

1 tablespoon cumin

Pinch of chili flakes

Pinch of hot sauce

Salt, to taste

Pumpkin seeds (optional as topping)

In a large pot add the potatoes, onions, carrots and red peppers. Cook until peppers and onions are tender, about 10 minutes. Add in garlic, red pepper flakes, garlic powder, cumin, onion powder, cinnamon, salt and pepper continue to cook until the cinnamon is fragrant (1-2 minutes). Once your spices are all warmed up  add in your black beans, tomatoes quinoa, hot sauce, chili seasoning pack and water. Give it a big stir then cover. Let simmer for 30 minutes or until the quinoa and sweet potatoes are cooked through. Keep an eye on the pot and add more water if needed.

Once the chili is ready, prepare a bowl for yourself and top with pumpkin seeds!  xx

PS: Defiantly a vegetarian dish….and 99% sure its vegan…Vegans? Any help here?

Vegtable chili