Chocolate Coconut Almond Tart

Hey there, been a while. It’s been two weeks of not doing much that is note or blog worthy. The weather has been all over the place, I’ve walked a few times each week, but not as much as I should have. I bought and cut the wood to make more beer totes and I’m looking forward to getting those assembled. I think we’re going to try and make a kitchen island on wheels, which I’m super excited about.

In addition, we are still working on the house. We moved some furniture out and did some rearranging in the dining room, which I like. The dining room and the garage are still housing more stuff that we are in the process of selling/sorting. Hubby did some work in the garage, and now, if needed, we could actually fit a car in there. We are doing a lot of research on a new range to be prepared since ours is twenty years old. We bought a new sink, pics of that later when the replacement process begins.

We also bought a new toaster oven, which is very exciting.

Because the old one (at least 15 years old) was creeping towards full failure (note the burned edges).

This past weekend, we finally spent some time in the kitchen testing out new recipes. I’ll post about the mac n cheese next, but first, the Chocolate Coconut Almond Tart. I don’t have a tart pan, so I opted for a beautiful pie dish our friends brought us from Poland.

The crust is three ingredients, which includes almonds (in both meal and chopped), coconut oil and maple syrup. It took longer to bake than noted, however everything takes longer in our oven. It didn’t get as brown, but I think it was a pretty thick layer. I tried to press it down, but I didn’t get much up the sides like it shows in Sally’s picture.

I mostly used Trader Joe’s dark chocolate, which I chopped, with a few semi sweet chocolate chunks thrown in. Yum! Besides the chocolate, there was coconut milk and maple syrup…that’s it.

It all turned out so pretty in the dish. Especially with the toasted chocolate and coconut on top.

I’d definitely make this one again, especially for any gluten free guests. It had a neat texture, and was delicious. Can anyone tell that I used the fancy camera for all of the tart pictures (not the toaster oven pictures). I’m still struggling with learning the non auto settings, but I do think that camera takes some beautiful pictures.

Here are two bonus sunset pictures from Sunday night. The first one was taken outside, the second (probably obvious from the window frame) was taken inside. I think the fancy camera did an amazing job, but it was still more amazing in person.

 

Window Photography

No, I’m not taking pictures of windows. I actually think I would enjoy that though, especially old windows on old houses. But alas, I am being a weather weenie and taking pictures through my windows. It’s actually been a good way to make ridiculously cold weather, and snowy weather, more entertaining.This time of year we have bird feeders up, the snow pretties up the landscape, and there’s always Fargo to use as a subject. Some pictures have even turned out reasonably well…others, not so much.

Not exactly the graceful running shot I had envisioned.

This one I took outside and it was worth being briefly out in the painfully cold temps. I may post a few more from this sunset at a later point. This one is definitely my favorite!

I’m still on all auto. I really need to figure out how to understand all of the manual settings better. When there are pretty pictures happening without my interference, it makes it harder to get moving on that front.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bundt Cake

I bought myself a little present a few weeks ago. Of course I researched, because I do that even for a small purchase. Prior to this year, I used a bundt cake pan once. The pan we have was handed down to us. It gets the job done, as you’ve seen if you follow along, but the ring is wide and the cook space is narrow. It doesn’t result in super pretty cakes.

Ta da!! New bundt cake pan (oiled for impending cake mix in this picture). It’s a much heavier duty piece of kitchen equipment.

While the youngest was still home on break, we did some baking together, WHICH I LOVED!! We decided to take the bundt pan for a spin with a modified¬†Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bundt Cake from Sally’s Baking Addiction. We subbed applesauce in for half the oil, reduced the granulated sugar by 1/2 cup and added some honey, and split the flour 1 cup wheat and the rest, white.

Looked pretty in the pan when we took it out of the oven.

The youngest wanted to sub in cream cheese icing. We again based it on a recipe from Sally and modified. We used half the butter, then taste tested after each half cup of confectioners sugar. After 1 1/2 cups of sugar, it was perfect!

I’m sure I should have evened up the bottom before turning the cake out, or somehow smooth the batter better. I had no idea how to spread the icing on the cake so it would be pretty. We all ended up spreading more icing on our pieces, so I also should have just put more on to begin with, but it really did turn out fine.

Very, very yummy!!

Here’s a bonus pic of Fargo and the youngest, which you may have seen on Instagram, and is one of my all time favorites.I’m learning about color adjustments, as you can probably tell.

Can you tell which of the pictures in this post were taken with the fancy camera? I’m having a lot of fun with it. I love the bigger lens that came with the deal. I’ve taken tons of bird, Fargo and landscape pictures.

 

Pickles

Cucumbers are a garden staple for us. We have been growing the Middle Eastern Zagross variety from Fedco Seeds for years. Last year, friends gave us a few pickling cucumber plants, and they produced well enough that we decided we ought to try pickling.

Do you have any idea how many pickling processes and recipes are out there? Even if you narrow it down to dill only? A FREAKING TON!!! We decided to try both refrigerator pickles and canned pickles.

Refrigerator pickles are certainly easier, given that there’s no boiling water/canning bath involved. They were tasty, but not our favorite.

A few weeks later, we went for the big process of canning pickles. We went with the Rodale recipe.

I have to say, that one of the more difficult parts was fitting cucumber slices of all shapes and sizes into the hot jars in a rapid manor.

We had enough dill from our garden to use in all of the jars. I love dill and I think it’s beautiful.

Unfortunately, we had a first batch mishap. Not sure if it was a jar defect, or if we didn’t work fast enough and the jar was too cold going in, or if it was something else, but ooops…

Luckily, it was only one jar, and that was our only loss.

We will be adding these to the annual canning list, for sure. I think they’re just a tad on the salty side, but everyone else who has tried them, gave us thumbs up.

Winter Camera Fun

Most of the pictures I’m taking are through the windows in this arctic chill that is seeming to go on forever. I am still on auto because, for whatever reason, the manual information just will not stick in my brain. I plan to continue to work on it. Fargo and our pupguest and birds using our feeder made good subjects to play with.

Two Wood Projects

Before I begin, best wishes to everyone for a happy and healthy 2018. As I noted in my last post, I want to start off this year by writing about two fun wood projects I worked on. Besides painting and stenciling, I have little experience working with wood, and even less with saws and drills. I didn’t post about these earlier because we gave them all away as holiday gifts.

My first step was to google “wood projects for beginners.” Pretty sure I have about 20 bookmarks for items I really want to make. I thought it would be the smart thing to start out with a smaller project, and I found free plans for a wine caddy on Shanty-2-Chic.com. There is a video with instructions on their website as well.

Hubby and I went out and bought supplies, and then he set up the mitre saw and showed me what I needed to know. Apparently mitre saw = outside use, which is fairly limiting at this time of year. Luckily, this day wasn’t too bad.

I’m sure it took me way longer than it should have, but I was pretty proud of my mitre saw prowess.

Instead of staining them, I decided to use leftover paint from our upstairs hallway because I really love the color. I must say, that I didn’t find it helpful to glue first because as soon as I started hammering the brad nails, the glue job was toast. Maybe if you have a brad nailer to use, it would make more sense. It did make things more complicated in terms of measuring, angles, etc.

Another first for me was using a drill. I love that our drill has a level on it so that you know if you are actually straight up and down.

I also used it to drill holes for the handle.

I really love how this turned out! If there was anything I would change, it would be the shiny silver corners, but after looking at multiple stores and online, there aren’t many other options in a similar price range.

Next was a beer tote by Rogue Engineer. I didn’t want to send in my email address to the site, so I followed from what was online the best I could. I decided to go buy supplies on my own. Apparently I have a learning curve in this area as well, because I had to make a return trip and returns, before getting what I actually needed. It was darn cold windy this time and I had to take breaks to get feeling back in my finger tips. We set the saw up going the other direction, behind the car, to try and buffer the wind a bit.

I cut angles this time!

I made four of these at once and had an assembly line going.

I bought bottle openers online. A lot of bottle opener reviews focus on how far you have to tilt the bottle to catch the top. I figured that with this beer caddy, the actual caddy could be tilted as well if need be.

Again, so darn excited with how these turned out.

I am absolutely making more of these. I enjoyed the project and the finished product. I will, however, need to wait until the temps rise above the teens.

Also, I’ve walked two miles on the treadmill two days in a row. YAY ME! Maybe I’ll get crazy and throw a few minutes of running in there. I’ll see how it goes.