Monday, July 21, 2014

Dad's Greenhouse

*this blog post does not contain sugar.  you've been warned.*

When we visited my dad earlier this summer, we got a look at how his greenhouse is coming along.  I know this post is a departure from the usual...sugar and spice and everything fattening.  So many people were interested in the greenhouse when I posted a picture of it on Instagram, I thought I'd give a closer look here.

So, my dad is building a (giant) greenhouse made of vintage windows, doors, and reclaimed wood.  

Here it is:
upcycled greenhouse made from reclaimed wood, vintage windows and doors
I really can't even comprehend how people build things.  It's so impressive to me.  Dad is good at this stuff.

Let's go in...
upcycled greenhouse made from reclaimed wood, vintage windows and doors
I love this old door.

upcycled greenhouse made from reclaimed wood, vintage windows and doors
This fan is one that I remember my dad having in the garage ever since I was a little girl.

upcycled greenhouse made from reclaimed wood, vintage windows and doors
upcycled greenhouse made from reclaimed wood, vintage windows and doors
The back/side.

upcycled greenhouse made from reclaimed wood, vintage windows and doors
Some of the glass he's had for ages...I remember my mom decorating with them.  Some were picked up at various places for this project.  Most of the wood is reclaimed.  Dad lives at a lake (yes, there's a lake in Amarillo!), so this is old dock wood.
I guess if we were hipsters, we'd call this an upcycled greenhouse.

upcycled greenhouse made from reclaimed wood, vintage windows and doors
These windows will swing open.

upcycled greenhouse made from reclaimed wood, vintage windows and doors
The roof.

I love that my dad is so handy.  He always has been.   I told him that maybe at age 70, he needs to start a new business....kind of like those Treehouse guys on TV. ;)


Saturday, July 19, 2014

Sweet on Trader Joe's Saturdays: Mini Blueberry Cheesecake Ice Cream Wedges

Trader Joe's time!!! 

trader joe's mini blueberry cheesecake ice cream wedges review #traderjoes
These Mini Blueberry Cheesecake Ice Cream Wedges catch my eye every time I pass by the frozen treats.  Trader Joe's describes them as "an ice cream that thinks it's a cheesecake."  (And also, "enlarged to show texture" ...you'll see in a second.)

Each box contains 6 ice cream cheesecake pops and costs $2.99.  Side note: these are mini pops and each one has only 100 calories! 

trader joe's mini blueberry cheesecake ice cream wedges review #traderjoes
Let's see how they stack up, shall we?


trader joe's mini blueberry cheesecake ice cream wedges review #traderjoes
My take: I was first taken in by just how smooth and creamy the cheesecake ice cream is.  Then, I was so pleasantly surprised by the blueberry swirl.  It actually tastes like blueberry cheesecake topping that you'd make at home.  Full of flavor, the perfect addition to brighten up the ice cream itself.  I loved reading that the blueberry swirl color is enhanced by red cabbage.  Hey, you know I'm not afraid of a little food coloring, but I appreciate foods that don't have it when it isn't needed.  Bravo, Trader Joe's!  I know this will be on Mr. E's list of items we must buy each time we shop!
Overall rating: 5 of 5 stars

Kiddo's take: These taste exactly like cheesecake. Not cheesecake-flavored, but real. The addition of the graham cracker crumbs on the outside and blueberry in the middle make it a dessert you won't forget anytime soon. It might give me a brain freeze, but I definitely could eat the whole box - and maybe more!
Overall rating: 5 out of 5 stars

trader joe's mini blueberry cheesecake ice cream wedges review #traderjoes

Trader Joe's Mini Blueberry Cheesecake Ice Cream Wedges: we think you'll dig 'em! 

Want more Sweet on Trader Joe's reviews?  Here are the items we've tried so far:

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

This can't be wrong.

Ladies (and gents)...
Kahlua Cheesecake Brownies
When you combine butter, sugar, chocolate, cream cheese, and Kahlua, the result just CANNOT be wrong.  It cannot. 

Kahlua Cheesecake Brownies
Kahlua Cheesecake Brownies.  They'll make you want to burn your bikini.  They're worth every dimple of cellulite.  The thought of them waiting for you at home will get you through that torturous Pure Barre class or 5-mile run.  (Or, the thought of them will make you skip your workout, grab a brownie, and curl up with a good book.  Whatever.)

Kahlua Cheesecake Brownies
Thick, rich, decadent, fudgey, creamy...these brownies are not overwhelmed by Kahlua like some rum cakes that will have you 3 sheets to the wind with one bite.  The hint of Kahlua is in both the brownies and the cheesecake layers giving the brownies a little something special without an alcohol taste.

Are you sold, yet?

print recipe photo printrecipe.jpg

Kahlua Cheesecake Brownies


for the brownies:
1 cup (4 half-sticks, or 2 full sticks) unsalted butter
2  & 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 & 1/2 cups Dutch process cocoa
1 teaspoon espresso powder
1 TBSP Kahlua
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
4 eggs
1 & 1/4 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
6 ounces chocolate chunks

for the cheesecake layer:
2 (8 oz.) packages full-fat cream cheese, room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 TBSP Kahlua
3 TBSP full-fat sour cream
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 350.   Grease a 9X13" pan.

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over low heat.  Once melted, stir in the sugar.  Stir the sugar and butter while gently heating until the mixture is warm to the touch (but not boiling).  Remove the pan from the heat.

kahlua cheesecake brownies pan photo kahluacheesecakebrownies2of10.jpg
Stir in the cocoa, espresso powder, Kahlua, salt, baking powder and vanilla.  Whisk in the eggs until incorporated.

Stir in the flour.

kahlua cheesecake brownies chunks photo kahluacheesecakebrownies3of10.jpg
Let the mixture cool for a bit, then fold in the chocolate chunks.


Make the cheesecake layer:  Beat the cream cheese until smooth.  Add in the sugar and beat well.  Beat in the Kahlua.  Add the sour cream and eggs, beating until smooth, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl as necessary.

kahlua cheesecake brownies swirl photo kahluacheesecakebrownies5of10.jpg
Pour 3/4 of the brownie batter into the prepared pan and smooth.  Pour the cheesecake layer over the top, smoothing with an offset spatula.  Spoon the remaining brownie batter on top.  Drag a table knife through the top, swirling the top brownie and cheesecake layers.

kahlua cheesecake brownies baked photo kahluacheesecakebrownies6of10.jpg
Bake for 35 minutes, or until the cheesecake layer is set.  Cool completely in the pan on a wire cooling rack.  Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.  (A bench scraper is a great tool for cutting these.)

*base recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion

Kahlua Cheesecake Brownies
See?  I told you these can't be wrong.


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