Here she is!

Yes, I have not posted in almost a year. I don’t have anything food or garden related to post. But I did want to share with you my beautiful daughter Stella who is six months old already. Time flies! I have been so busy with being a mom, working, cooking and gardening (not taking pictures of the food and plants obviously) But I did take some lovely photos of our newest addition to the family, Miss Stella Rose Miller, who was born last December. She is already crawling and last night she said Mama!! She is a gift from God and I am so lucky. Boy, did I pray for this.

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Mini Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecakes


Do you love peanut butter, chocolate and cream cheese? Well, I have got a dessert for you. This is a no-bake cheesecake using heavy cream rather than frozen whipped topping and two 8 oz. packages of PHILADELPHIA cream cheese. Sure to please and impress your guests, this recipe can be used in four mini springform pans, or one 10-inch springform pan. Using the 10-inch pans will give you approximately 8 servings; the mini pans will provide four.
Prep time: 20 minutes |Cook time: 2 hours |Total time: 2 hours 20 minutes |Servings: 4
1 1/4 cup(s) of chocolate graham crackers crushed
1/3 cup(s) of light brown sugar
1/3 cup(s) of butter, melted
16 ounce(s) of PHILADELPHIA cream cheese
1 tsp. of lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp. of vanilla bean paste
1 pint(s) of heavy cream
1/2 cup(s) of granulated sugar
15 mini peanut butter cups, cut in pieces
1/4 tbsp. of mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup(s) of peanut butter sundae topping
1/3 cup(s) of chocolate sundae topping

Steps
In a medium bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, melted butter and brown sugar.
Press into the bottom only of the springform pans(s)
In a large bowl, beat the PHILADELPHIA cream cheese on medium speed for one minute.
Add the heavy cream to the PHILADELPHIA cream cheese and beat on medium speed for 1-2 minutes, until fluffy and light
Add vanilla bean paste, lemon juice and granulated sugar to the PHILADELPHIA cream cheese mixture, beating on medium speed for about 30 additional seconds.
Evenly distribute the PHILADELPHIA cream cheese mixture into the springform pan(s).
Refrigerate for at least two hours, or as long as overnight. It is possible to place in the freezer for a minimum of one hour before serving.
Remove from the refrigerator and remove from the springform pans. Evenly sprinkle the cut up peanut butter cups and mini chocolate chips on the top.
Preferably using a squeeze bottle, draw horizontal lines with the chocolate sundae topping, and vertical lines with the peanut butter sundae topping across the top of the cheesecake(s). EAT AND ENJOY

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The sweetest kid ever

I have not posted in a long time, but I have an excellent reason. In late April, I found out I was pregnant. when I am pregnant, I have an extremely rough time with nausea. I don’t like to cook at all. Every little smell bothers me and I hardly have any appetite.

I have not even felt like taking pictures of my garden, but truthfully May was okay, and then we fell into a drought around here and many of my flowers died. THe rabbits ate some of them, and the drought killed some of them. Even our tomato plants contracted some kind of disease and they have spots.

However, I want to leave you with a video of my beautiful daughter. I had nothing to do with writing this “script.” This was 100 percent her doing. She told her dad and me she had a surprise for us, and to come outside. We went outside, got a couple lawn chairs, and she had a show set up for us. Watch it. I am so proud.

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Sweet Potato Waffles w/ Fluffy Cream Cheese Topping


The best days are those when you wake up without having to rush off somewhere. So, on those days, make a big breakfast! I LOVE sweet potatoes and feel good feeding them to my family. They’re high in fiber, and rich in vitamins A and C to name a few.

I developed this recipe, adding sweet potato to my family waffle recipe, and made it even more healthy using white whole wheat flour.

Prep time: 15 minutes |Cook time: 5 minutes |Total time: 20 minutes |Servings: 4
Ingredients:
1 1/2 cup(s) of white whole wheat flour
1/4 cup(s) of sugar
1/2 tsp. of baking powder
1/4 tsp. of salt
1/2 tsp. of vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. of cinnamon
1 cup(s) of half and half
1/2 cup(s) of sour cream
1 baked sweet potato (skin off, about 3/4 cup)
4 tbsp. of melted butter
3 eggs, separated at room temp.
4 ounce(s) of PHILADELPHIA cream cheese
1/2 cup(s) of heavy cream
1 tbsp. of sugar
1/4 cup(s) of pecans
Steps:
Preheat waffle iron; spray with oil
Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon in a large bowl and whisk them until well combined.
Just barely combine the wet ingredients with a whisk: vanilla, egg yolks, butter, half and half, sour cream and sweet potato.
In a large bowl, combine the dry and wet ingredients; stir to combine, about 20 strokes
Beat the egg whites with electric mixer on high speed, about 1-2 minutes until soft peaks form.
Incorporate the egg whites into the batter, folding them in with a rubber spatula, about 1/3 of them at a time.
Pour the batter onto your waffle iron.
While the waffle is cooking, beat 4 oz. cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer for 1 minute.
Add 1/2 cup heavy cream to the cream cheese, and 1 T. sugar. Mix at high speed for 1 minute.
Place a waffle on a plate, and top with a generous heap of the fluffy cream cheese topping. Add pecans (and fruit or other nuts if you wish) and ENJOY!

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Beautiful flowers, kids and dogs


The world is so beautiful now because it is spring. It seems that all my trees are blooming early this year. I was really itching to get the gardening gloves on. So, I went to the nursery and got some pansies and a few other things, and my husband and daughter and I had a good time planting. I am ready for more, but I will wait a little longer to be sure we don’t have anymore frosts. However, it has been an average of 65-70 degrees everyday, some days much higher. I still think I’ll play it safe and wait. I bought some petunias in hanging baskets and put them on my porch, but with those, you don’t have to worry so much. If it is cold out, or a frost is looming, you just bring ‘em in the garage.

So, the other day I wanted to take a pic of Sam and the dog outside in front of the lovely blooming tulips. I took 17 pictures and I didn’t get a single one where both the kid and the dog were looking at the camera. Well, the dog, you can’t blame him. He is just a dog. But Sam said the sun was in her eyes. These photos were taken right about 12 noon. Maybe if I wait until 3:00 or so next time, that would be better. Then the sun would still be very bright, just not as bright, and not directly overhead. Anyway, I thought this photo was adorable. Look at my dog’s face. Is he not the most adorable thing ever? He is such a good boy. He is so loving. He would absolutely never, ever bite you no matter what you did to him. He really, really loves Sam and wants to be with her.

Last year when I was watching the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, after waiting and waiting for the Cavalier King Charles to have it’s 60 seconds of TV time, the first thing the announcer said was, “Excellent with children, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel….” Well, that statement is absolutely true. This dog is downright chivalrous when it comes to my daughter. We joke that he is her brother, but I am kind of serious about it. He is sweet, patient, almost doting. He does bother you quite a bit when you’re eating, but when we got him Sam was 3 years old. It wasn’t like we were going to be able to never give him people food, because she dropped food all the time. I mean she was 3!

Back to flowers for a moment. Tulips are one of my favorites. I think they are one of the simplest pleasures in life. I think that it is a shame they really only hang around for 1 or 2 weeks out of the year. I wish we could have them all spring and summer. Last year, my daughter and I planted several bulbs. We were happy to see that most of them came up and were lovely. We planted pink butterfly daffodil bulbs too, and they came up but there wasn’t anything pink about them. They were basically all white. Oh, well. I probably won’t buy anything from Michigan Bulb Company ever again, or whatever their name is.

I am going to have to restrain myself and wait just a couple more weeks to buy some more flowers. But then look out! I am going to be at the nursery with bells on. The first thing I plan to buy are vincas and verbenas, as the rabbits don’t eat those, and I would also like a few white and pink coneflower perennials, which I’m sure the rabbits will eat.

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Delicious and healthy carrot cake

This carrot cake is very popular at all our family gatherings. My dad loves this, and of course my 5 year old daughter loves it to. But then she never met a sweet she didn’t like to eat. This sweet however has many healthy properties. It contains pineapple for vitamin C, walnuts, which provide the Omega-3′s, and of course carrots, which are high in beta carotene and have antifungal properties. I use a cream cheese frosting for this, and it also is nice with some coconut on top of the frosting. However, for Easter, I went sans coconut.

RECIPE:
3 large eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil (expeller pressed if possible)
1 cup light brown sugar, packed (I prefer the brownulated sort if you can find it)
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
2 cups all purpose flour
2 T baking powder
2 1/2 cups grated carrots (use your food processor to save tons of time)
1/3 c crushed pineapple
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
tsp cinnamon – optional

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9×13 pan

In a mixing bowl beat the eggs; add the oil and beat. Add the brown sugar and beat till smooth. Beat in the, vanilla and cinnamon. Add in the combined flour and baking powder, and beat till combined. Then add the carrots, pineapple, raisins and nuts gently to combine.

Spread the batter evenly in the cake pan, Bake for 40-45 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

Cream Cheese Icing:

8 oz. softened cream cheese
3 tablespoons softened unsalted butter
1-2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste, to taste
3 cups 10x sugar
1 tsp lemon juice

In a mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter until fluffy. Incorporate the 10x sugar a cup at a time; add the lemon juice into the frosting and beat till smooth. Add more sugar, if needed, to thicken or more juice to thin.

Frost the cake.

ENJOY!!

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Adorable bunny cupcakes

HAPPY EASTER!  Everybody loves cupcakes!  Here is a very simple recipe for some super cute cupcakes, which you will have lots of fun making with your kids.  We took these to my daughter’s preschool Easter party, and all the kids loved them.

Look, I even got my husband involved in the decorating process! He is so sweet most of the time….

Here is what you need:
24 white or yellow cupcakes of your choice
About 24 standard size marshmallows
about 48 mini marshmallows
Pink sugar sprinkles
pastel M&M candies
1/2 c coconut
Vanilla frosting for the cupcakes try mine:
1 1/2 C confectioners’ sugar (add more if you need to, until it reaches your preferred consistency)
1/2 C butter (softened)
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste (add more to taste)
1 T cream

After frosting the cupcakes, you may add coconut. I decorate about half my cupcakes with coconut, just in case people don’t care for the taste of coconut, which I LOVE, by the way. The coconut really makes the bunnies appear fuzzy and authentic. Cut the larger marshmallows diagonally in half, and dip the sticky side in the pink sugar sprinkles. That way, they will sit on the cupcakes very easily.

Using the frosting as a “glue” dip the blue or green (or any color M&Ms you like) in the frosting, and use them as eyes. I prefer pink M&Ms for the bunny noses. Then place the mini marshmallows below the nose as “cheeks” using the frosting again as glue. Voila! You have super easy, super cute bunny cupcakes to share with all your loved ones, and you will have a great time making them….next week: CARROT CAKE CUPCAKES!!!

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