Sunday, November 29, 2009

Sweet Potato Cupcakes

Ok, so I will tell you up front that I am not the biggest sweet potato fan. Never liked them. However, I was recently inspired by Homemade Iowa Life (a blog I discovered) to try out a recipe for them for Thanksgiving.

Oh. My. God.

These things are absolutely delicious. No amount of description could possibly convey how amazing these are. They are the perfect blend of flavors and spices, without being overly sweet. Definitely a new holiday favorite.

-2 cups all purpose flour
-2 teaspoons baking powder
-1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
-1/2 teaspoon baking soda
-1/4 teaspoon salt
-1 cup butter, softened
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
-3 eggs
-1 15 oz. can sweet potatoes, drained and mashed
-1/2 teaspoon vanilla
-small marshmallows, if desired


1.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 24 standard size cupcake/muffin cups with paper cups and set aside.

2.) In a medium bowl combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt.

3.) In a large mixing bowl, beat butter for 30 seconds.

4.) Add sugar and beat on high until light and fluffy, approximately 2 minutes.

5.) Add in eggs, one at a time, beating on low speed after each addition until combined.

6.) Add sweet potato and vanilla, beating until combined.

7.) Add in dry ingredients and continue beating until all ingredients are combined. The batter will be thick.

8.) Divide batter evenly among the muffin cups. Bake for 20 minutes.

9.) Remove cupcakes from the oven and sprinkle with granulated sugar while they are still warm.

The cupcakes were absolutely delicious and perfect at this point, but since it was Thanksgiving and all I thought I would add some marshmallows. If you wish to add marshmallows, pile a few on top of each cupcake and stick the whole pan under the broiler until the marshmallows are nicely toasted.



Stories from San Diego: Theodore's Treasures

Meet Theodore (aka Theo).

Theo is Brett's parent's cat. Theo has a little bit too much free time on his hands. He should maybe consider taking up a hobby like woodworking or pottery or perhaps volunteering somewhere. Theodore likes to occupy his time by collecting random objects from around the house and stashing them in his food bowl. It can be anything really-hair ties, bobby pins, pens, etc.-but for some reason it seems like it's usually my stuff. On our most recent trip, I woke up one morning to find my eyelash curler in the cat food bowl.

Like I said, Theo: you need a hobby.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Sea Life Aquarium

When we were in San Diego a couple of weeks ago Margie treated Brett & I to an afternoon at the Sea Life Aquarium at Legoland.

The first thing we did was head upstairs to see the seahorse feeding:

Then we saw the cool stingrays. They actually had signs saying 'do not pet.' No kidding.

They had all these bubbles where you could stick your head up into the aquarium. Naturally, we all had to take a turn in the bubble:

We got up close and personal with an octopus...

...and said hello to an extremely large lobster:

There were lots and lots of pretty fish:

And cool moon jellies:

And these bright red shrimp were really pretty!

I'm pretty sure the tunnel ended up being everyone's favorite part of the experience:

Thanks Margie!!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Cream of Broccoli Soup

I have had many many many requests for my Cream of Broccoli Soup recipe. The trouble is, that it's not in a cookbook, it's in my head. So, this evening when I made this soup for dinner, I took the time to write down the ingredients and steps.


-1 white onion
-2 celery stalks
-1 medium carrot
-2-3 cloves garlic
-16 oz. frozen broccoli flowerets, thawed and chopped into 1" pieces
-32 oz. vegetable stock
-4 tbsp. butter
-4 tbsp. flour
-1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
-1/2 teaspoon Lawry's salt or regular salt
-1/2 teaspoon garlic pepper or regular pepper
-Dash of ground nutmeg (optional)
-Shredded cheddar cheese (optional)

1. Chop onion, celery stalks, and carrot and set aside in a bowl with 2-3 cloves minced garlic.

2. Make a roux out of 4 tbsp butter and 4 tbsp flour.

3. As the roux begins to thicken and bubble, slowly stir in 32 oz. of vegetable stock and bring to a boil.

4. Add in your onion, carrot, celery and minced garlic and boil over medium-high heat for approximately 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

Mmmmmmm... I guarantee you it smells delicious at this point.

5. Add in broccoli, salt, and nutmeg. Continue to boil until broccoli is tender and cooked through.

6. Stir in 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream and simmer over low heat for an additional 5 minutes, or until hot.

7. Garnish with cheese if desired.

This soup is deliciously thick and hearty... perfect for chilly winter nights.


Dear Bougainvillea

Dear Bougainvillea,

Because it's Monday. And because I'm feeling silly. A haiku in your honor:

Dear Bougainvillea
I love you for your beauty
But not for your thorns.

I had completely lost all memory of what a thorny beast this pretty plant can be. That is until I had to trim some out-of-control vines by our front door the other day. Hopefully the fact that it is "winter" will keep those crazy vines at bay for a little while.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

My New Best Friend

For those of you not familiar with Ree Drummond (aka The Pioneer Woman) you should really check out her blog. It's a lot like mine...only better...and way more people read it.

Anyway, shortly after arriving in Arizona, I discovered that Ree would be holding a book signing for her newly released cookbook at a bookstore in Tempe.

I had to go.

I did have a couple of questions about the book signing, so I decided to send her an e-mail...and she actually e-mailed me back!! I'll edit it down to the important parts for you:

Can you believe it?? She's looking forward to seeing me! She wants to be best friends... I just know it. ;)

So, me and about 500 of Ree's other closest friends all flocked to the Changing Hands bookstore in Tempe with the hope of getting our cookbooks signed.

I waited around for about 2.5 hours for my turn to get my book signed, and they weren't even halfway through the group at that point. Sadly, I did not get to meet Ree. I really wanted to take a picture with her, but I will have to settle for this fuzzy-picture-taken-from-across-the-room.

Fortunately, I was able to leave my book to be signed by her at a later time. Here's what she wrote:

I will enjoy! I can't wait to get started on some of her fantastic recipes.

The Iowa Cafe

Just for kicks when we first got to Arizona, Brett's Aunt Judy took us out to the Iowa Cafe for breakfast. It's really neat inside because it has tons of Iowa-related memorabilia: John Deere stuff, cow & pig decor, and t-shirts and pennants from every college in the state.

Except Palmer.


I may have to get in touch with some of my Palmer buds still in Davenport and see about having some Palmer gear sent my way. Gotta represent. ;)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Hemp TV

When we were staying in Albuquerque we happened across an actual television channel called Hemp TV. I can't believe this exists. It's a bunch of wacky images played to tripped out music. They've even included today's date for your convenience in can't remember...

The 'Big Move'

Ah, the joys of moving across the country. In town moves are infinitely easier. Since I know you are dying to hear all about how the move went, here it is:

We started packing quite a while ago, but didn't start loading the truck up until graduation week:

We had the challenge of fitting all of our stuff into 12 linear feet of truck, and Brett & our friends accomplished it.

We are very grateful for all of the friends and family that came out in full force to help us get the truck loaded and the house cleaned.

Moose was not a very big fan of the whole situation, but he was a trooper and hung out in his carrier during the packing and the drive across the country.

We waved goodbye to the Iowa-80, the World's Largest Truck Stop, and a landmark that I drove by everyday on my way to work.

We stopped to rehydrate at what is probably the cutest little gas station ever.

This is the evil Subway that gave me a horrendous bout of food poisoning on our drive to San Diego in Summer of '07. Don't worry, we did not eat there, we just got gas there.

(Side Note: Does anyone else find it funny that all of these cars are silver?)

We waved goodbye to Mr. Terrible and his casino as we left the state. He was the first thing that greeted us when we arrived there nearly four years ago.

We hit Kansas City just in time for rush hour.

This is the most traffic that we had seen in some time.

Here is Brett's very serious traffic face:

And this is my not-so-serious traffic face:

On road trip day 2 this cow really wanted to say hello:

And most of Oklahoma and Texas was flat and boring like this:

On day 3 we woke up to snow in Albuquerque. Things started off okay, but then visibility got worse...

and worse...

It did make for some pretty scenery though....

The good news is that the snow cleared up relatively quickly, which is a good thing because nearly 400 miles at approximately 40 miles per hour is not the way we like to do a road trip.

Just for old times sake we had to go stand on the corner in Winslow, Arizona.

Moose was pretty well pooped at this point.

Flagstaff was chilly but picturesque, with only mild flurries.

It was our last stop before arriving safely in the Phoenix area. I busied myself for the last leg of our journey by harassing Brett with my camera:

Look! It's both of us!

Uh-oh I know what this look means. This look says 'this crazy woman better stop taking pictures of me soon...'

Yeah, game over.
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