Life of aspiring Social Worker/Baker/Chef

Social Causes Meets Food Obsession

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Bake-a-thon part 2

Hello Blogosphere! It has been far tooooo long. I apologize for the delay. With out further ado, I bring you the best home made granola bars on the face of the planet.

Wait? There is no picture...yup they did not last long enough for a picture. In fact, the hubby has since gotten this care package and they lasted all of 2-3 days. They are that addicting. What is in them you say? Absolute goodness! That is what.

In all actuality, they are very customizable. I did the first batch that I sent in the care package with peanut butter, dried blueberries, dried apples, and dried cranberries. The second batch that I had to make for me I did a holiday theme with cranberries, pumpkin seeds, pumpkins spice, almond butter and dried apples. And if you haven't had warm granola bars you don't know what you are missing! Annie and I had to designate a section of warm granola bars that would not be sent to GI John.

The best home made granola bars ever

1 2/3 cup of plain oatmeal
1/3 cup oat flour (ground oatmeal oats until fine)
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon (I add a 1/4 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice for my holiday mix)
2-3 cups of fruit, seeds and nuts (I always do a ratio of 1 cup nuts to 2 cups dried fruit)
1/3 cup of almond butter or peanut butter (You can make almond butter in a food processor really simply and it is sooooo worth it)
8 table spoons of butter
1/4 cup of honey
1 tablespoon of water

Mix everything together in a bowl. Using parchment paper in a loaf/brownie pan or even a cake pan for a thin variety, pour and spread the mix into the pan. Then bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes.

Nothing is more simple and elegant than a tea cookie. They are ridiculously simple and just a touch of sweetness. Perfect with lemonade on a hot summer evening and a good book. They are ridiculously simple to make and will last up to a week in the fridge and longer in the freezer. Traditonally you are supposed to make them like ice box cookies in a log, but at the time I was sans a rolling pin.

Cranberry Almond Tea Cookies
2 sticks of butter
2/3 cups of powdered sugar
2 egg yolks
2 teaspoons of almond extract
2 cups of flour
1/2 cup of cranberries

Beat butter until smooth and add the powder sugar. Slowly, beat in the yolk, extract, and cranberries. Roll into a log and slice (or if you are feeling particularly lazy scoop with a spoon). Bake at 350 for 12-14 minutes and top with powder sugar. Enjoy :)

If you or some one you know would like to send a letter, candy, beanie babies or care packages to our troops please visit Operation Gratitude's website: They can connect individuals who want to adopt a solieder or beanie baby donators to soliders in need. And I know the beanie babies sound silly, but the troops use them to get information from children about explosives. These unwanted toys can save lives. Please take a minute and visit their site.

Friday, July 2, 2010

For the OTHER man in my life :) / Bake-a-thon part 1

In my last post I discussed that I had two men. Well, this one is just for him. I have known John for forever. Our story is literally from "The Notebook". Currently, the love of my life is in Iraq doing his job and staying safe (well he better be). Since, we (little man and I) love him so much we decided to send him a big box of goodies for him for fathers day and just because we love him. I know, I know "awwwwww".

I made two types of muffins, granola bars, cookies and cheese straws to send him. That is quite a bit of baking to do in 3 to 4 days. Additionally, I had to get my first blog ready for "Coffee and Community" which requires me to bake too. So I immediately hit panic mode. For some reason, no matter what it is, I hit up one of my close bffs Annie. I swear from shoes, weddings, moving to baking...Super Annie to the rescue.

Say hi Annie!

Annie is helping me make the Raisin Bran Muffins that we split between the man and the organization interview for the Institute of Leadership Advancement. They were perfect subtle muffins. They were sweet, but not overly so. The raisins gave an excent little pop of flavor. I have also have imparted to my significant other in many, many ways that I am distinctly southern. Italian-southern, if you will. I say "yall",eat grits,put mayo in lots of things, beauty pageants and sorority events littered my past, I make casseroles and cobblers and cheese straws.

I make GOOD cheese straws. I softened it down for my better half, because he is not as into spicy as I am. I would also bake them slightly longer for a crunchier cheese straw.

*Also, invest in a pizza cutter. It will also make your straws more even and create that crispy effect. We have one in storage. I miss it. It doesn't call, doesn't right and it makes me sad.

Raisin Bran Muffins

*Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
1/2 of a 15oz box of Raisin Bran Cereal
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup brown sugar
2/3 cups granulated sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups milk

Mix the dry ingredients all together. Mix all wet ingredients together. Bring both together and let sit for 45 minutes to over night in the fridge. Make sure it gets put in an air tight container. Place in muffin pan, sprinkle with sugar and bake at 350. Yum. Nom nom.

Cheese Straws

1 1/2 cups (about 6 ounces) grated extra-sharp Cheddar cheese
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick or 2 ounces) unsalted butter, softened and cut into 4 pieces
3/4 cup flour, plus more for dusting
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon
1/2 teaspoon of creole seasoning (for more heat use crushed red pepper and/or hot sauce)

Combine everything in a food processor until a coarse, crumbly dough ball forms. Dust a surface with flour, knead and roll out dough flat. Slice the cheese straws or cut them into shapes or make them cracker shaped. Bake at 350 for 12 minutes.

Stay tuned for mini pecan maple muffins (I mentioned I was southern, right?), almond cranberry orange tea cookies,the most addicting home made granola bars ever and a fabulous faux shrimp po'boy. The po'boy isn't for my G.I. John. That one is all for mama ;).

See you soon blogsphere! Remember to visit the HandsOn Northeast Georgia blog:

Saturday, June 19, 2010

For the man in my life...

Many of my close and personal friends know I have a wonderful man in my life. He tells me he loves me for no reason, that I am his best friends and makes me laugh daily.

Ok, ok I have two....but in all fairness I made this one. :)

And we were also out of town for his birthday....So, what do you do for an impromptu celebration? Chuck E Cheese! His bffs from Memphis came and we scheduled a play date at the said establishment. And it wouldn't be a play date with out sugary goodness. I made ice cream cupcakes (this is the first year I made cupcakes for his birthday).

I got the idea from Joy the Baker. However, Conner wanted Lighting McQueen flavored ice cream (where do you even find that? can you imagine Disney-Pixar flavored ice cream?). And I was baking in a kitchen as a guest with out my normal spices and goodies.

I opted for using a cake mix instead of home made and made a chocolate fudge icing instead of a true Ganache, but for a play date/celebratory affair they turned out mighty fine.

Strawberry Ice Cream Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache
(Adapted, but not by much, from Joy the Baker)
*Devil's food cake mix
*1/2 cup of Sour cream
*1/4 Tsp of sugar
*Softened strawberry ice cream
*Cup cake liners
*3/4 cup Chocolate Chips
*1/4 cup Heavy cream

Prepare your cake batter according to the directions. Add the 1/2 cup of Sour cream and the sugar (this moistens the cake mix batter to fool people into thinking it is home made). Fill the liners only about half way or a little less. I only made half the cake mix and still had some cake mix left over. Allow to completely cool.

While the cupcakes are making, place the ice cream in the refrigerator and allow to soften. Using an ice cream scooper, scoop your ice cream right on top of the cupcakes still in the pan. Take a spoon and pack and smooth the ice cream. Place the cupcakes in the freeze. Allow to refreeze.

The day before or 2 hours before the party heat the heavy cream in a small sauce pan on medium heat, remove from heat and add the chocolate chips. Stir until shiny. Coat the cupcakes (quickly as it will immediately set when it touches the ice cream). Top with sprinkles and again refreeze.

Friday, June 11, 2010

LOST: the final party....

I love Lost. LOVE it. We were all on edge when finale rolled around. And WHAT a finale. 2 hour build up before the show, 2.5 hour show and interviews after that. So, I invited my nearest and dearest to celebrate at my new apartment (fondly called the "man cave").
So, what do you make to feed six people for at least 5-6 hours? And how do you make it seem lost-ish and make enough to last?

I started with some fun decorations to get in the spirit. Then, I thought Mangoes...what could I do with Mangoes? I found a simple salsa with onions, mango, cucumber, spicy peppers (which I left out) and I added fresh corn to thicken it up to serve the number of people. Needless to say it was the simplest dish and I literally had none left over! I also wanted to do something substantial for such a long sitting of TV. I made Mr.Cluck Cluck's chicken nuggets (home made nuggets) served with carrot sticks and Hugo ranch.

I also bought peanut butter filled pretzels for Charlie and Claire PB pretzels (I ran out of time or I would have made PB cookies). Which leads us to my favorite part of any meal - dessert! Really, you can't watch your favorite TV show without sweets. At least that is how we operate in the "Man Cave". It's a rule. So, for our Island theme I made coconut truffles also named "brigadeiros" in Brazilian and Latin American cultures. This slice of heaven is fudge like and rolled in sprinkles, coconut and whatever your little heart desires. I confess for my second dessert dish I have just wanted to make an apple cake. So, I christened it the Adam and Eve Apple cake. It is all kind of moist, cinnamon apple goodness.


Mango Salsa
- 2 mangoes
- 1 ear of corn or one can of corn
- 1 cucumber
- 1 quarter or half a onion
- 2 tablespoons of lime juice
- Handful of chopped cilantro to taste

Add all ingredients and stir. Serve with tortilla chips.

*Adapted from Smitten Kitchen and Tribeca Yummy Mummy
- 4 tablespoons of good quality cocoa powder
- 1 cup of sweetened condensed milk
- 1/2 cup coconut milk
- Shredded coconut,sprinkles and any other toppings

In a medium sauce pan combine the milks and the cocoa powder over medium heat. Stir until it thickens (about 10 minutes). Let come to room temperature and sit the mixture into the fridge for 20 minutes. Line a plate or pan with parchment paper. Slightly wet your hands and, using a spoon, scoop out segments of chocolate. Roll it into a ball with your moisten hands. Then, in a shallow dish, roll the chocolate into your desired toppings. To make Carmel flavored instead of chocolate, add 2 teaspoons of light corn syrup.

I promise the Apple cake recipe will make an appearance soon. ;)

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Remember me....?

So, to say it has been a long time is a bit of an understatement. Just a wee one.

I have very good excuses! Really do! Such as: end of the semester, moving, loss of camera connector doodad, new internship and current loss of the Internet.

Sad I know....I won't do it anymore. Scouts honor.

I do have LOTS of things to blog about. Such as LOST finale food extravaganza, pasta in a pinch, and ice cream cupcakes! YUM. So, soon little blog you will be filled with lots and lots of entries.

Did I mention I have a new internship? Community Connections of Northeast Georgia (CC or CC of NEGA). What is THAT, right? Well, what CC of NEGA does sounds really simple (believe me it is not). CC connects callers to a service they need. SO, if Daniel needs help to obtain Child Support; then he can call CC to get information he needs. However, we (as the behind the scenes people) are responsible for maintaining the system of information, taking calls and the other departments of CC. Oh, there is more you say?

Yes, more. They also have a program called HandsOn Northeast Georgia where they establish volunteer activities and connect volunteers to volunteer opportunities. CC also works to establish stronger Nonprofit Organizations in Northeast Georgia through their Nonprofit Development Alliance where nonprofits can get training, funding and information for becoming fully developed. Get Help, Give Help and Grow Help. Simple, right? Ha.

Anyway, they are a fantastic organization and I am pleased as punch to be here this summer. I love it. One of my responsibilities includes the HandsOn Northeast Georgia blog. Here is where it gets interesting. I am going to bake things for my "Coffee and Community" sessions for the CC blog. So, stayed tuned for my upcoming blogs, baking like crazy blogs and tune into CC's blog to hear about the organization!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

"Mind the tornado" - White Queen

White King:"What tornado?"
White Queen: "The one that blew me clear up!"

Alice Through the Looking Glass and What She Saw There - Lewis Carroll

There is a certain time in the Southern US (and other areas) that produces storms. In the fall, it's hurricanes and in the lovely months of spring tornadoes. With all the bad weather, I thought why not make my good, old reliable Turkey Chili.

I remember the fall storms in which my particularly Turkey chili was created. Turkey Chili is one of the first few dishes I learned how to cook when browning meat was still "hard" and baking seemed impossible. It's a really colorful chili and it's just light enough. Perfect for stormy springs.

1/2 cup chopped broccolli
1 medium bell pepper
2 medium stalks of celery
1 pound of ground Turkey
14 oz of vegetable stock
1 28 oz can of chopped tomatoes (or the equivalant of fresh tomatoes)
1 regular can of kidney beans
Chili powder
Garlic powder
Creole seasoning

Add around a 1/3 a cup of vegetable stock to your pan (Turkey is a poultry and you have to keep it moist at all times).
Very lightly brown your turkey. Add the seasoning.
Add more stock and your kidney beans. Let cook on medium/high heat for a few minutes, 5.
Add the tomatoes and let cook for 5 minutes.
Add the green veggies and more stock and season once again.
Put a lid on your pan and let simmer on medium heat for 20 minutes, while stirring every 10 minutes.
Return lid and simmer on low heat for 20 minutes and serve.
I specifically didn't add measurements for seasoning because that is very subjective to the individual. Enjoy. :)

I would like to take a brief minute to encourage everyone to donate to the American Red Cross to help those in Mississippi affected by the tornados of last week. This is the largest and most damaging storm the state has seen since hurricane Katrina.
Individuals in this area lost everything they own and precious family members. To donate or learn how to get involved:

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Buttermilk is evil incarnate

Growing up in the south, my grandmother made just about every recipe with buttermilk. Something about buttermilk has naturally skeeved me out - even as a small child. The length people kept buttermilk in the fridge...It is just unnatural. So, with my hatred of buttermilk I have never made those fluffy pancakes everybody imagines when you say "pancakes". I normally make vegan pancakes, which are sweeter and thinner than the IHOP variety, but not today. Oh no, I made normal fluffy pancakes (minus the buttermilk). Not only did I make normal pancakes, but BANANA pancakes. I just think adding fruit makes it more fun.

The recipe I used is adapted from Jamie Oliver's food recipe a day for the food revolution. I am very excited about his community organizing activities to change how people think, eat and involve food in their everyday lives. The TV show following him in West Virginia has just ended last night. It was phenomenal. If you get a moment to watch it or itune it, I highly suggest it. I feel that it's so important that our school systems have healthy choices for kids. Many times children living in highly impoverished areas only get the meals at school. These children, as well as those in more influential neighborhoods, depend on this food to sustain them through the rest of the day. Lunches filled with sugars and filler is not only going to end in energy depletion, but will not sustain any one through a day. Furthermore, studies show where we start in our lives directly impacts where we end up as adults. Why not give our children a great start? His website is and you can sign his petition here:

Banana Pancakes
1 cup of self-rising flour
1 cup of milk
Pinch of salt
1/2 a banana*
Splash of almond extract

*Depends on how much banana that you like. I would add more. The 1/2 I added was a very subtle banana taste. It's really a great feeling with the soft gooey banana and the rich pancake. The texture is a nice juxtaposition.

Cut and quarter bananas. Add all ingredients into a medium bowl.
Add butter to a skillet. Let the pan get so hot that the butter completely melts.
Using a ladle, scoop out one ladle full at a time on to the hot skillet.
Flip the pancakes when they start to form bubbles and are brown on the opposite side.
Repeat on the other side. Cover in fruit and syrup. Enjoy. :)

Friday, April 23, 2010


This is my first official blog. I have been really inspired by food bloggers like Joy the Baker and Smitten Kitten and my personal friends to create my own blog. I really like the Julia Child feel of relating food to your life and sharing what inspires the moment that you decided to cook. I am Graduate student (mediocre) in the Social Work School at the University of Georgia. My time spent here is among other aspiring foodies, Martha lovers, Barefoot lovers and people who just love food (which has added to my waste line). So, I want to share my trials into food/Social Work with you fine people in cyber space. Welcome to the disorganized chaos of my food imagination.