Saturday, March 31, 2012

How to Wrap Flowers for a Gift




So I scored the $1.67 daffodils from Whole Foods but didn't have the nerve to ask someone to wrap them up. Here's what I came up with at home. (I had to do it on the sly in the garage because the flowers were a post-performance surprise for Chloe, so pardon the rubber floor tiles.)

Supplies:
craft paper or cellophane wrap
rubber band
clear tape
ribbon


Step 1: Cut craft paper to about the
length of flowers and twice the width.


Step 2: Fold paper in half lengthwise
at a slight angle.


Step 3: Lay flowers on center of paper
above rubber band. Fold a triangular
shape from one side of paper.


Step 4: Fold the other side. Pull taut.


Step 5: Wrap end of paper around
to the back and fasten with tape.


Step 6: Cover rubber band with ribbon.


Step 7: Tie bow.


Cone of sunshine!


You can do this with flowers from the farmers market or your own garden. Now you're ready to brighten someone's day with a simple gift. For an even easier way to present flowers, check out this post:

http://niftynest.blogspot.com/2013/03/how-to-wrap-flowers-for-gift-part-deux.html

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Homemade Non-Dairy Shamrock Shake

Every March, a McDonald's commercial advertising the Shamrock Shake comes on and I'll get swept up with nostalgia and tell myself to get one at the drive thru. But alas, the image of poor Phoebe watching me slurp down the shake prevents me from getting one. Here's a non-dairy version:

Ingredients:
2 c vanilla soy ice cream
1 c almond milk
1/2 t peppermint extract
3 - 4 drops green food coloring

Mix all ingredients together in a blender. Makes four 6-oz servings.

Phoebe decided to gild the lily. She saw a recipe on the back of her Cool Mint Oreos (yes, Oreos are dairy free, go figure), added some chocolate syrup to the bottom of the glass, and sprinkled some Oreo crumbs on top.

Non-Dairy Mint Ice Cream

Chloe loves mint chip ice cream. We decided to make a Phoebe friendly version. We left the chocolate chips out but you can add them if you want.


Step 1: Pour 2 c almond milk into large bowl.


Step 2: Add 1/2 c sugar.


Step 3: Slowly sprinkle 1/2 t guar gum
as you whisk vigorously. 


Step 4: Add 1/2 t peppermint extract.


Step 5: Add 3 or 4 drops of green food coloring.


OK, maybe one more drop.


Step 6: Turn ice cream maker on.
Pour mixture into ice cream maker
and let it go for 20 to 25 minutes.






Caution: The first time we made this, we used 1 t peppermint extract. Way too strong for Phoebe! Trust us, pure peppermint extract is potent stuff. You may want to add 1/4 t at a time and have your child taste it.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Vegan Chocolate Cake

This chocolate cake comes together easily--and it happens to be vegan! The first time I made this in an 8" x 8" brownie pan as a last-minute addition to a not-so-impressive weeknight dinner. My family finished it before I could even snap a picture! Today we had leftover morning coffee, so I made cupcakes. As usual, I made some substitutions to make it dairy free, but it's also egg free so even if you're allergic to eggs or you just don't have any eggs in the house, you can still have your cake!




Adapted from joyofbaking.com

Ingredients:
1-1/2 c flour
3/4 c sugar
1/4 c unsweetened cocoa (I used plain old Hershey's)
1 t baking powder
3/4 t baking soda
pinch of salt
1 t cinnamon

1/4 c + 2 T vegetable oil (I used extra light olive oil)
1 c warm coffee
1 T lemon juice
1 t vanilla extract

Whisk the dry ingredients together in a medium-sized bowl.




Whisk the wet ingredients in a measuring cup.




Pour the wet into the dry and combine. I just use the whisk in a gentle folding motion and try to resist overmixing.




Fill muffin tin (or 8" x 8" square brownie pan). Bake for 20 minutes (or 30 minutes if using brownie pan). Frost with Vegan Chocolate Frosting:

http://niftynest.blogspot.com/2012/03/chocolate-vegan-frosting.html




Friday, March 9, 2012

DIY Microwave Popcorn

Years ago I saw Alton Brown make popcorn in a brown paper bag. Genius! The only thing I tweaked: Skip the staples on the bag. The idea of a stray staple in my daughter's popcorn freaks me out. If you hate the chemical smell of commercial-brand microwave popcorn not to mention the possible health hazards of consuming such chemicals, try this!


Step 1: Take out popping corn.


Step 2: Pour 1/4 c popping
corn into bag.


Step 3: Flatten the bag and close
opening with three narrow folds.
(You want to secure it but leave
plenty of room for corn to pop.)


Step 4: Flip the bag over such that its bottom
rests on the glass so the bag can inflate.
(Eek! Don't look at my dirty microwave!)


Step 5: Microwave on high for 2 minutes.


So plump with promise . . .


Hurray!

Here are a few additional steps to add flavor to your popcorn.


Add olive oil and salt to taste.


Sprinkle some nutritional yeast
for extra savory goodness.


Chocolate Vegan Frosting

This frosting is based on a ganache recipe sans the heavy cream of course. Thank goodness for semisweet chocolate chips from Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, and Ghiradelli that do not contain milkfat.

Ingredients:
3/4 c almond milk
1 c semisweet chocolate chips

Heat up milk in a small saucepan over medium heat just shy of boiling. Take milk off heat and pour in chocolate chips. Stir until chips melt. Blend with immersion blender for extra smoothness.


Chill in refrigerator for at least 15 minutes. You must chill it! Otherwise, you'll be waiting a long time for your frosting to thicken. Chocolate mixture should firm up but still be soft enough to spread.





I've used this on a basic chocolate cake and as a sponge cake filling. If you have any leftover, dip strawberries or oranges. OK, I admit it, we've even spread it on toast with some peanut butter as a dairy-free Nutella.