Chocolate & red wine cupcakes

I embarked on a cupcake experiment today.  Chocolate and red wine are one of my favorite pairings, and I thought, “Why not fuse the two together into a cupcake?”

Yesh, why not?

Behold!  It is done.


And I made a video detailing my adventure in the kitchen today.  You can check it out below.  And if you are interested in trying the recipe yourself, you can find it here.

The best birthday cake ever: hazelnut carrot cake with cream cheese frosting


I have the same birthday cake every year: carrot cake.  I cannot even remember a time that I did not have carrot cake, though I remember (vaguely) of a Strawberry Shortcake birthday cake like this one from my early childhood:

I actually had the original cake form up until I last moved 7 years ago, along with several other cake forms for Blue Clues, Tigger, and many more cartoon characters that I can no longer recall.  But for years and years and years, it has been carrot cake.  I love carrot cake.  No….wait.

I LOVE carrot cake.

Last year I switched things up a bit, like I always do, and instead of using pecans or walnuts, I decided to try hazelnuts.  It was a freakin’ home run.  In fact, when I was first pondering what to make for my first YouTube video, this carrot cake was one I thought about making as my debut video.  But for some reason I didn’t.  Maybe it was for lack of time, who knows.  But the time has now come and yes, even though it was my own birthday, I made my own birthday cake.  Not-so-secret:  I always do.

I enjoy it, so why not?

And also…once someone, who may or may not be Hubby, made my birthday cake for me and made the comment that the batter looked like vomit.  Fair enough.  This batter doesn’t have a sexy, lick-the-bowl look to it, but it tastes phenomenal (both in batter and baked cake form).  So from that point forward, I decided it was just easier on everyone involved if I made it myself.  This year I had a particularly grand time making this cake, as you will soon find out if you watch the video.

Soon-not-to-be-secret: I lightened up the original recipe considerably and there is absolutely no compromise in flavor, texture, or overall quality of this cake.  It’s practically health food, as far as cakes go anyway, so you should definitely give it a try.

Recipe is here.  Video is below.

Making the most of these last days of 2017

I know this is totally cliche, but what a year!  2017 has been an interesting year, to say the least.  I had a good year for the most part.  Urban Farmgal is gaining some traction, my cooking videos are improving, I got to go backpacking in the Beartooth Mountains (I need to write a blog post on that soon.  New Year’s Resolution: write that blog post!), I taught myself some sewing techniques (ZIPPERS! And…I turned a denim jumper into a really cute denim skirt–more on that soon), I’ve been baking a lot of holiday goodies, and I’ve been skiing like crazy the past few weeks with MaeBelle and the Hubs, in large part to work off all those holiday calories!  But I’m ready to say goodbye to 2017.  I need a fresh start in 2018, just like every year.

A few highlights from the home front recently:

1.) Everybody needs a pineapple pillow case!  And flannel, too.  When I saw this fabric, I knew Stepdaughter #2 needed it in her life.  I didn’t know what form it would take when I purchased the fabric–I knew I’d figure it out later. I picked up the other fabric at the same time, not knowing I’d use the two together.  But I needed a little extra length and the pattern looks like sea shells, so why not combine it with pineapples?  This is probably the easiest Christmas gift I have ever made.  When you need something clever and quick, a quirky pillowcase can do the trick!


2) Getting outside to enjoy the snow.  I have a new pair of skis.  They are short and fat and act like sliding snowshoes.  They are from Altai Skis and they are called Hoks (pronounced Hawks).  They have built in skins, so you can climb up hills but they will also slide & glide like cross country skis.  If you get on a steep enough slope, you can even turn them like downhill skis.  They are so much fun!  MaeBelle took me on an adventure with them last week and we climbed up on the trails south of town:


3) A friend helped me out of a bit of a pickle last week.  What better way to repay her kindness than with a knitted hat?  I love the colors of this hat and I’m quite pleased with the outcome.  I hope my friend loves it.  This photo doesn’t even do it justice.


4) Skiing!  Hubs, MaeBelle, and I went for a ski tour up at Stemple Pass this afternoon.  It was a glorious way to spend the last day of the year.  It was cold in town (-14 degrees F when we got up this morning and still below 0 when we left the house at noon) but it was 18 degrees up at the pass.  It was a bit windy, but we followed some other skiers who broke trail for us and stayed in the trees protected from the wind.  What a great way to get a workout!


5) Snow science!  Hubs and I dug a snow pit on our ski tour today and he showed me how to examine the snow to look for weak layers that could fail and lead to an avalanche.  We actually found some weak snow, which means avalanche danger is fairly high right now.  We knew the snow was a little sketchy because we’ve gotten a ton of snow the past couple of days.  Just after we left the truck, on a fairly flat section, I felt my skis “wumphf” beneath me, which is a tell-tale sign of weak snow layers.  We also took our avalanche beacons and wore them just to practice using them.  Don’t worry, mom!  We were not in any danger, I promise!


6) Here are my Hoks.  They are only 125 cm long, which means my poles are longer than my skis!  They truly are just a ball of fun.  And they climbed up some pretty steep snow today, which impressed both Hubs and me. Unfortunately, this year’s stock, including my skis, have a problem with the skins delaminating and so they have to be replaced or repaired.  At least they are under warranty, but I may have to ship my skis back while I wait for my new ones to arrive.  That means I may not have a chance to hop on these babies again for a few weeks…


7) Full moon rising.  We saw the moon rising as we were driving home and it was a glorious sight!  A full moon on the last day of the year seems a fitting way to bring 2017 to a close.

moon crop

Happy New Year, everyone!  I hope 2018 brings you much health, happiness, and prosperity.

Blueberry cake donuts with lemon icing– baked, not fried

I’ll post the recipe later this week, but holy cow, these are absolutely terrible!  Don’t even bother trying to make them and certainly don’t blame me if you make them and eat 4 of them just so your significant other doesn’t find them and discover how terrible they are, too…

Recipe is here.

Winter squash & black beluga lentils make some fine Halloween veggie burgers


I’m not going to wax poetic about these veggie burgers.  I’ll let them speak for themselves.  But I WILL say that you ought to give them a try.  I really dressed mine up with the chipotle & dried cranberry coleslaw I made to go with them, as well as some dill pickle, Swiss chard or beet greens, fresh tomato slices and some candied jalapenos (they are so good!) that my friend made this summer.  I’ll post the recipe soon!  Til then, here’s a crazy Halloween video, with plenty of outakes at the end, on how to make the burgers and slaw.

This is no grocery store potato salad

This potato salad is covered in a tangy Dijon vinaigrette!  In short: make this.  You won’t regret it.  Bonus: it’s really quick to throw together–great for potlucks and parties. Recipe is here.  Enjoy!

Chili verde (It’s so hot)!

Oh my goodness, I’m feeling like a roasted chili these days.  It is hot in Montana this summer!  It’s hot outside, it’s hot inside my house, this chili is hot…not spicy hot (unless you want it that way–the go for it!), just hot off the stove hot.  I probably should have made a salad for this week’s video or something like that, but you know tomatillos don’t last forever in Montana, so as the old saying goes: You gotta make hay while the sun is shining.

So I made some stinkin’ chili verde!  And you know what?  It is GOOOOOOOOD!  It’s even better for lunch the next day.  So get on the tomatillo and chili bandwagon with me and make yourself some.  Don’t want to eat it all?  It will freeze!  Then you can enjoy when you really DO want something hot to eat.  Here’s the recipe, and the video is below.  It may be hot in the kitchen, but you’ll enjoy this one!

You’ve gotta try these jalapeno poppers!

If you like jalapeno poppers, then I’ve got a treat for you!  We got jalapenos in this week’s share, and I combined them with the hot pepper cheese curds from the Fun Share, some roasted garlic cheese, cream cheese, and feta cheese (that’s the secret weapon!) for an out-of-this-world spicy treat.  Best of all, they are baked, not fried.  I cooked mine on the grill this week just because I didn’t want to turn on the oven and they turned out beautifully.  The recipe is here.  Give ’em a try and I hope you love them as much as I do.

Roasted garlic & arugula spread

I know I’m a little late posting this video this week, but I think the wait was worth it!  This is a 2-part recipe: a roasted garlic & arugula 1) butter and 2) cream cheese.  I put the garlic arugula butter on some toasted bread and it was terrific!  Then I made a sandwich with the cream cheese and loaded it up with some cucumber and turnip slices–that was one of the most delicious, most refreshing lunches I’ve eaten in a while!  Intrigued?  Check it out and make it!  It’s so easy and so yummy.


Homemade ranch dressing & dip mix

I love ranch dressing–and I love the powdered mix you can buy in those little packets in the grocery store, but they are expensive, and they always have hard-to-pronounce ingredients in them, including monosodium glutamate, or MSG.  MSG has its issues (I have a friend who claims it gives her migraines) and so I try to avoid it whenever possible.  Thus this copy cat recipe for making my own ranch dressing/dip mix.  It’s perfect for mixing with some sour cream to dip snow peas in (if they even make it out of the garden, which most don’t).  But I also toss this mix with potatoes and a little oil prior to roasting, and I also sprinkle it on popcorn.  And what about ranch Chex mix?  Yes, please.  I’ll post the recipe…one of these days when I get a little more time to write it up.  Until then, you’ll just have to pause the video to make sure you have all the ingredients!