Posts by Cassie

Turkey Pot Pie with Sweet Potato Biscuits

9

Posted on Oct 22, 2014 in Food

Turkey Pot Pie with Sweet Potato Biscuits

Here’s a holiday-themed confession for you: I’m actually pretty indifferent about Thanksgiving dinner. I mean, sure, it’s delicious and all, but what I get really excited for are the leftovers. All year, I wait for that moment on Thanksgiving night when the kitchen is clean, my jammies are on, and I can happily dig into a turkey and cranberry sauce sandwich while I sip on a glass of wine and watch Elf (because everyone knows the Christmas season starts as soon as you get up from the Turkey Day table). That sandwich is worth all the work of cooking the massive meal. That sandwich is stuff dreams are made of.

And then, by about day three of having my favorite sandwich for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, I’m so sick of it that I can’t imagine ever wanting another turkey sandwich (until next year). That’s when I start to bring out the other uses for leftover turkey. Turkey soup is good. But turkey pot pie is even better.

Turkey Pot Pie with Sweet Potato Biscuits

I know most people make pot pies with pie crust or phyllo dough (or even canned crescent rolls—don’t knock it ’til you try it, it’s delicious), but I’m a biscuit kinda girl, and I love topping pot pies with biscuits. These sweet potato biscuits are an amazing way to complement the turkey-veggie filling underneath. It’s like a supercharged version of biscuits and gravy. Yum.

Turkey Pot Pie with Sweet Potato Biscuits

My favorite part of this recipe is how adaptable it is to whatever leftovers you have kicking around. Put in chicken instead of turkey. Throw in your leftover veggies from Thanksgiving dinner (Brussels sprouts, green beans, whatever). Switch out the sweet potato puree for pumpkin or squash puree (or leave it out all together). Half it if you just have a few leftovers. Double it and share it with friends and family if you have lots. This recipe is incredibly flexible—really, it’s pretty much impossible to mess up.

Turkey Pot Pie with Sweet Potato Biscuits

We were lucky enough to have a whole bunch of smoked turkey leftover from Canadian Thanksgiving when I went to make this dish. My Dad was in charge of the turkey this year, and he brined it in apple cider, and then smoked it beer-can style for hours and hours on Thanksgiving morning. It was, without a doubt, the most moist and delicious turkey I’ve ever had. We all agreed that we’ll never roast a turkey again! Bonus: the oven didn’t have to be on all day heating up the house.

And the smoked turkey was absolutely incredible in this pot pie! Non-smoked turkey or chicken would also work great, but if you can get your hands on some that has been through a smoker, I highly recommend it.

Turkey Pot Pie with Sweet Potato Biscuits

I’m a big fan of turkey soup, but I think this might be my new favorite way to repurpose holiday leftovers.

Enjoy!

Turkey Pot Pie with Sweet Potato Biscuits

Total Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

Yield: 6 servings

Turkey Pot Pie with Sweet Potato Biscuits

Repurpose your Thanksgiving leftovers in this hearty turkey pot pie topped with fluffy, flaky sweet potato biscuits.

Ingredients

    For the Filling
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 3 large carrots, peeled and diced
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups chicken or turkey broth
  • 2 large potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh minced parsley
  • 3 cups shredded, cooked turkey
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • For the Biscuits
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour (plus more for kneading)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup chilled butter, cut into 1/2" chunks
  • 1 1/2 cup sweet potato puree
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. To prepare the filling: In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat, add in the garlic and onion and cook until fragrant and tender, about five minutes. Add in the onion, celery, and carrots and continue to cook for an additional 5 minutes.
  3. Sprinkle the flour over the veggies, stir to coat, and cook for two minutes. Then add in the broth, bring to a boil and add in the potatoes. Reduce heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until all veggies are tender.
  4. Remove from heat, stir in the parsley, turkey, salt and pepper. Set aside.
  5. To prepare the biscuits: In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda until well-mixed.
  6. Using a pastry blender, two forks, or your fingers, work the butter into the dry ingredients until the butter pieces are a touch smaller than a pea.
  7. In small bowl, whisk together the sweet potato and buttermilk.
  8. Gently stir in the buttermilk mixture to the dry ingredients, being careful not to over mix. The mixture will (and should!) be very sticky and liquidy—about the texture of a thick cake batter. If it isn't liquidy, add more buttermilk.
  9. Heavily flour a work surface, and dump the dough onto the flour. Flour the top of the dough well, and then pat out until 1/2-inch thick. Fold the dough in half horizontally, then pat down again until 1/2-inch thick, adding more flour to cover sticky parts if necessary. Fold the dough in half vertically, then pat down again until 1/2-inch thick. Repeat this process 5-6 more times (this is creating the delicious, delectable layers that make the final biscuit so awesome).
  10. Flour a circle biscuit cutter or a drinking glass, and press straight down to cut the biscuit. Do not twist the cutter! Twisting “seals” the sides of the biscuit and stops it from rising. Just push straight down and bring the cutter straight up.
  11. To assemble the pot pie: Pour the filling into an ungreased 9 x 13 baking dish, top with the biscuits (butting the biscuits right up next to each other). Bake in preheated oven for 30-40 minutes, or until the biscuits are golden brown and the filling is bubbly. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.
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August 2014 Income Report — $1620.56

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Posted on Oct 21, 2014 in Career

August 2014 Income Report

It’s time again for my monthly income report! If you’re curious what this is all about, I started a back-end overhaul of the business aspect of my blog on August 1st, and I want to share my results with you monthly. Why share? Well, a few reasons:

  • Accountability: I want you all to hold me accountable. Keep me in check if I stray off the straight and narrow. Turning your blog into a money-making venture is often a delicate balance between authentic and smarmy, and I really want to err on the side of authentic—and I’m hoping you guys will help keep me there.
  • Transparency: I think it’s hard to be authentic when all things financial and traffic related are hidden under a cloak of mystery. I’m hoping by sharing my numbers and stats, we’ll all feel a little more comfortable with the business side of my blog.
  • Motivation: My goal is to make the work I put into this blog “worth” my time financially. The problem is, I love doing what I do here so much that I’d do it for free. That doesn’t really light a fire under me to work on the business side! By sharing my financials every month, I hope to motivate myself to keep on keepin’ on the road to figuring out how to make this blog financially efficient.
  • Inspiration: Maybe along the way, I can figure out a thing or two and help inspire some other bloggers out there to find out how they can make their own blog more successful and profitable. That’d be super cool.

We’ve been running behind a few months on the past few reports, but this one is finally getting to the good stuff! I officially started my charge to make more moohlah on August 1st, and this report you’re reading right now is for August. So how’d I’d do for the first month? Well, let me show you…

Disclaimer: Some of these links below are affiliate links—meaning I get a few pennies if you happen to purchase through my link. I use and recommend all of these products. Let me know if you have any questions.

Income

Total Income: $2003.68

Thoughts on Income

One goal.

I’ve talked in previous income reports about there being about a million items on my list of things I’d like to do to improve my blog and my business. Honestly, it is really overwhelming to think about all the things I want to accomplish! So when I first set out to make a change, I decided to set one goal for myself, and pursue that one goal. And that goal was to make the most out of what I already had. Sure, I could do a major push to gain followers. Or I could write an eBook. Or I could do a complete redesign. But first, I needed to get my ducks in a row with the stuff I already had. Eventually, I’d love to do all of those things, but August was all about making sure my foundation was strong before I moved onto big, new, shiny things.

What you don’t know can hurt you.

Until I read this book on monetizing blogs (I know I promote this book a lot, but I swear, it changed my life), I had no idea how much cash I was throwing down the drain by not optimizing my ads. August was my month for figuring out my ad situation. I went from five ad networks in July, to running 10 networks in August—with the same number of ad spaces. My goal was to figure out what ad networks worked best for my blog and my readers. Everyday in August, I’d login, check my stats for the previous day and rearrange and move things if I needed to. By the end of August, I had figured out my optimal setup (for now) and have been running it ever since with monumental success. My ad revenue alone increased by nearly $500 in one month! And that’s actually with less traffic in August, and the same number of ad spaces.

So what’s my current setup? Well, I’m running BlogHer and the Blogger Network as my main ad networks, and then I have some secondary ads (mostly buried within posts) that run other networks. It’s working so well for me! My hope is that it will continue to work well enough that I can actually work on removing some of the ad spaces (like that super annoying sticky ad on the bottom of the page) in my redesign. Obviously, it’s a balancing act, but my preference will be to have fewer ads in my new design, but that function better, and therefore, garner a higher rate from sponsors.

Expenses

Total Expenses: $383.12

Thoughts on Expenses

Get me some learnin.

You’d think, being that I’ve been doing this blogging thing for over four years, I’d know what the heck I was doing, but I have no dang clue! Like I mentioned above about ads, I’ve been really in the dark about how to run this blog as business for years. But thankfully, there are people out there who not only do it well, but do it well and then spread their knowledge with the rest of us. I’ve already waxed on about how much the How to Monetize a Food Blog eBook has changed my business, but I’m also applying the same desire to grow to another important aspect of my business—photography.

You may or may not have noticed, but I’ve been working really hard to improve my food photography. I’ve always had the elements to take good photos—the eye, the equipment, the knowledge—but I’ve mostly just been lazy about it in the past. Too lazy to grab my tripod. Too lazy to set up my diffuser. Too lazy to style the food well. But then I did some research and realized that my most popular posts also happen to be the posts with some of my better photography. Coincidence? I think not. Ever since then, I’ve been really trying to put the time into good photos. It’s funny that I always short-changed myself on that part. I work hard to craft a recipe and write engaging content, but then I’d sell myself short with not-so-great photos.

Food Photos

I’m trying to learn as much as I can about this food photography thing. I am 100% self-taught (well, my photographer husband taught me how to work the camera, but everything else is me, myself, and I), and so I’m still definitely an amateur, and I’m absorbing information from almost anywhere I can get it. One of my favorite food photo resources is Pinch of Yum (they also do awesome income reports similar to these). I like that they are amateurs and give tips and tricks based on an amateur food blogger’s knowledge and resources. I’m just getting started reading their book, Tasty Food Photography, but it has already helped me improve my photos immensely.

Photo Comparison

I had a lazy photographer relapse moment last week. I was in a rush to get the photos for the Butterfinger Ice Box Cake done, so I just quickly grabbed my camera and put the cake on a backdrop on the floor and shot the photos. When I loaded the photos in Lightroom, I knew I was going to need to reshoot them. It was a recipe and post I worked hard on—it deserved better photos! So I went back out the kitchen, set up my whole studio and re-shot them. If I just would have done that in the first place, I would have saved so much time. Lesson learned. Shoot good photos the first time. My work deserves to be represented well. I’m amazed at the lessons I am learning everyday with this project!

Tools of the trade.

You’ll notice two new items in the Expenses list that are going to be monthly charges—CoSchedule and ViralTag. CoSchedule is the editorial calendar I’ve been using for my site, and it has changed my life! Before, I was just using Google Calendar to keep track of my posts, but CoSchedule is also a social media calendar, meaning I can not only schedule my posts, but also my Facebook posts and Tweets for each post, making everything run much more efficiently.

CoSchedule

Unfortunately, CoSchedule doesn’t work with Pinterest, so in order to leverage Pinterest well, I subscribed to ViralTag to help me schedule my pins. ViralTag has been easy to work with, and it’s really nice because I can schedule my pins during prime Pinterest time—even when those times don’t align with my work time. ViralTag can be a bit buggy at times (sometimes it likes to vomit out all my pins at once instead of spacing them out—apologies if you follow me and have seen 40,000 of the same pins at one time), but they are constantly working to improve it.

ViralTag

Take Home Pay

Since this whole project is about making my work time more efficient, I thought it might be helpful to figure up a formula for calculating what I’m earning each month in regular-job terms. In the formula, I subtract my expenses from my income, to get a profit. And then I subtract 30% of that number to account for taxes. That number is my take home pay for the month. To figure the hourly wage, I estimate I work 100 hours per month on my blog, so I divide that take home pay by 100.

Take Home Pay = .70(Income – Expenses)
Hourly Wage = Take Home Pay/100

This month’s take home:

Take Home Pay

Woohoo! That’s a little bit better than the paltry $3 an hour I was clocking in back in June and July. I will say that that 100 hour estimate that I was originally using to figure out my hourly wage might be a bit off now. The amount of time I spend on my blog has increased significantly over the past few months—I might be refiguring that number in upcoming reports.

RPM

Another way to put my monthly numbers into perspective is to figure up the RPM (revenue per mille). This is the amount of money that the blog makes per thousand impressions. It’s a good number to know, because it helps you understand how effective your income sources are, regardless of your traffic. A blog with only 100 visitors a week, but with a high RPM is actually a lot more financially efficient than a blog with a million visitors a week but a low RPM. It’s not all about traffic! My RPM for August was:

RPM

I am so happy to see this number! As a frame of reference, decently-earning blogs have RPMs of at least $5. Excellent-earning blogs make $10+. And you’ll even see some rockstar blogs making $15-$20 RPM.

This number right here tells me that I’m doing a pretty darn good job now of making the most income possible from the amount of traffic I have. In July, my RPM was $1.93, which means I increased my RPM by nearly 400%! In one month! Exclamation points!!! I think this proves that, while yes, it’d be nice to grow readership, the most important thing to do first is to make sure your making the most out of what you currently have. This number tells me that in August, I achieved my one goal of getting my foundation squared away. And now, I can move onto bigger and better ideas!

Traffic

Here are a few screenshots from Google Analytics from August.

Overview

Google Analytics Overview

Top 10 Referring Sources

Google Analytics

10 Most Popular Pages

Google Analytics

Thoughts on Traffic

  • If you’re a big Pinterest user, you may have noticed that there have been changes recently to the way it’s displaying content to users. Instead of being strictly chronological (like Twitter), Pinterest is going the way of Facebook and using a “smart feed”—basically, they use an algorithm to decide what is displayed in your feed at what time. It’s scary territory for bloggers because it means we can no longer control who gets to see our stuff. Considering I consistently get a third of my traffic via Pinterest, it makes me a little nervous to see such a big shift. That being said, not putting all my eggs in one traffic-driving basket is an important lesson to learn! I’m going to start looking into other options for driving traffic to my site (StumbleUpon looks promising!).
  • I have to be honest, it’s a little disheartening to see no posts from the past six months on my most popular pages list. Intellectually, I understand it’s probably because those posts have been around longer and have had more time to circulate and become popular, but emotionally, I’ve worked so hard over the past few months to put in the time and effort to make quality content. I have to keep reminding myself that a large part of making a business successful (any business) is just slogging away day-in and day-out. You work hard, do good work, be a good person, and things will go your way. Maybe not immediately. Maybe not for a while. But they will go your way.

Next Steps & Other Thoughts

Redesign Time

Now that my foundation is set, the next big undertaking is a redesign! Not only does BTHR just desperately need a new look, but, more importantly, there are some serious functionality changes that need to happen. Most importantly, I am working hard to get my recipes in order—they’re a mess (and in two different places) right now! I also am working hard to optimize how ads display, both from a user and an advertiser perspective.

Screen Shot 2014-10-19 at 1.36.33 PM

With the redesign, I’m also planning on going about it in a more professional way. I’ll be hiring a developer to work on some of the more complicated aspects of the new functionality, and I also plan on doing user-testing to make sure everything is fit as a fiddle before it goes live to the masses. That means the whole process is taking a lot longer than the wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am style of design work I’ve done in the past. You are more than welcome to chime in in the comments with things that you like/dislike on websites. No guarantees I can make all requests happen, but I’d love to hear your ideas!

There are lots of little things I’m working on, too (figuring out the optimal posting schedule, working with brands, social marketing, etc.), but the redesign is my #1 priority right now. Like I mentioned up top, there are so many possibilities with this project, that I have to chunk it out and focus on one thing at a time, and right now, that thing is a redesign.

All done!

That about wraps it up for August’s report. If you’re keeping track, within one month, I increased my income by 278% ($428.54 in July to $1620.56 in August). Obviously, that big of an uptick won’t happen each month—August was a “catch up” month to help get all my previous issues that were detrimental to my income intake fixed. I am absolutely thrilled to see the numbers growing! And I hope you’ll stick with me as I keep learning. Thanks for reading!

Spinach-Quinoa Patties

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Posted on Oct 20, 2014 in Food

Spinach-Quinoa Patties

Spinach-Quinoa Patties

There are a lot of things about my life that have changed since I became a parent. I now consistently go to bed while it’s still light out. I do adult things like pay for life insurance. Each room of my house is littered with toys. And my diet has totally changed. I definitely didn’t foresee such a huge shift in what I ate back when I was prepping for parenthood.

There are a number of reasons why the change happened. First of all, obviously, my time is limited. And a lot of that limited time is spent holding a baby, which means I no longer have two free hands to cook and eat food with the wild abandon I once had. Secondly, we discovered a few months back that my JuneBug has a milk and soy protein intolerance, meaning I’ve cut out all soy and dairy from my diet. Thankfully, most kids grow out of the intolerance within the first year, and I’ll eventually be able to drown myself in cheese again, but for now, my diet is limited. The two things combined mean my diet is drastically different from what I was eating pre-baby.

Spinach-Quinoa Patties

And let me tell you, this combination isn’t very conducive to healthy eating. More of my diet than I like to admit is made up of granola bars (I have a specific brand and variety that I know is soy- and diary-free) and trail mix. There is absolutely nothing wrong with either, but when they make up a large portion of your daily calorie intake, it’s not a very balanced way of eating. And I’m feeling it. The sugar overload has me feeling completely run down (well, that and having a four-month old).

I decided this past week I was sick and tired of feeling sick and tired, and decided to (a) complain about it on the internet for the whole world to see and (b) do something to fix it. So I headed to the kitchen and powered through a bunch of cooking in order to whip myself up some new mom friendly foods. Healthy, fast, not packed with sugar, soy or daiy, and preferably easy to eat with one hand. The first of my Mommy munchies are these super tasty quinoa patties.

Spinach-Quinoa Patties

These are like little health food superstars wrapped up in an easy grab-and-go package. They are a source of complete, vegetarian protein (thanks to the quinoa), they are packed with nutrients because of the carrots and spinach. They are both filling and nourishing. And, if you think all of this sounds like a recipe for tastebud boredom, you’ll be happy to know that these patties are incredibly flavorful. I was so impressed with the explosive flavor of these guys.

I’ve been eating them straight out of the fridge (see previous note about lack of time), but you can also top them with sour cream, tzatziki, hummus to add a bit more punch. These patties are so versatile! Crumble them onto a salad. Eat them as a side dish for dinner. Form them into bigger patties for a veggie burger substitute. Pack them into a lunch. Freeze them up for later eating. It may seem like this recipe makes a ton, but I promise you’ll find a way to use them—and then wish you’d doubled the recipe.

Spinach-Quinoa Patties

I cooked these up by pan-frying them in a touch of avocado oil (it has a nice high smoke point), which made them crispy and crunchy, but if you want to be mega-healthy, you could also bake them in a medium oven for 15-20 minutes until they are golden brown. Personally, I feel like pan-frying quinoa and spinach is the picture of balance. Life is too short to eat your quinoa baked. Or something like that.

Enjoy!

Spinach-Quinoa Patties

Total Time: 20 minutes

Yield: 36 small patties

Spinach-Quinoa Patties

Showcase the power of two vegetarian superfoods in these spinach and quinoa patties. Perfect for snacks, lunches or dinner!

Ingredients

  • 3 cups cooked quinoa (for extra flavor, cook in chicken or vegetable broth)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons minced parsley
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and shredded
  • 4 green onions, diced
  • 1 cup frozen, chopped spinach, thawed, and squeezed dry
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
  • 1-2 cups whole wheat panko breadcrumbs (I like these)
  • 2 tablespoons avocado or olive oil

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients, except the oil, in a medium mixing bowl until well mixed, adding in more breadcrumbs if necessary to achieve a mixture that will hold its shape when formed into patties. Let the mixture rest for 5-10 minutes to allow melding.
  2. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Form the mixture into small patties (about 2" wide) and, working in batches, cook patties in heated skillet for two minutes on one side, flip and cook for an additional two minutes, or until both sides are golden brown. Let patties cool on paper towels.
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Peanut Butter Monster Munch Halloween Party Mix

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Posted on Oct 19, 2014 in Food

Peanut Butter Monster Munch Halloween Party Mix
Peanut Butter Monster Munch Halloween Party Mix

Monster Munch Halloween Party Mix

There is something about hosting houseguests that makes me want to go junk-food crazy. I guess I like to use other people kicking around my kitchen as an excuse to whip out all the foods I wouldn’t normally eat. I like to live by the 80/20 rule of nutrition—80% of the time, you’re eating healthy, fresh foods and 20% of the time, you can eat non-nutritive junk food like this. And it seems like that 20% always happens to fall when I have friends and family in my home. I swear I eat healthy most of the time, friends. It just doesn’t look like I do when you come visit my house.

Monster Munch Halloween Party Mix

We hosted my husband’s parents this past week, and there was a lot of delicious food (junky and not-so-junky). So much so that I actually totally forgot to bring out this party mix that I made for snacking on. I had put it all in a big zip-top bag and stashed it behind a bunch of other food, and by the time I remembered it was there, my in-laws were already on their way back to Canada. C’est la vie. Honestly, I kinda think Craig isn’t too sad that we have a whole bag of this stuff to ourselves. He called it “incredibly dangerous” as he shoveled handfuls in his mouth.

Peanut Butter Monster Munch Halloween Party Mix

The inspiration for this mix comes from my favorite movie theatre treat. I like to mix together buttered movie theatre popcorn with Reese’s Pieces while taking in a flick. It is the absolute best combination of sweet and salty! So to make this Halloween snack mix, I took that flavor profile to the next level—mixing together popcorn, Reese’s Pieces, salted peanuts, pretzels, and everyone’s favorite Fall candy—candy corn. And then I slathered it all in a peanut butter caramel coating, and then topped it with an orange candy drizzle and sprinkles—just in case you didn’t quite get the idea that this wasn’t health food (well, it’s healthy for your soul—but probably not your body).

Monster Munch Halloween Party Mix

When it comes to the texture of the final mix, you have a bit of a flexibility with this recipe. If you want it to be crunchy and crispy like standard caramel corn, you can cook the peanut butter caramel coating a bit longer to the hard crack stage (about 300°, but I don’t have a candy thermometer, so I just use the ole water glass trick). If you want it a bit fudgier, just cook it until the soft crack stage (about 280°). I like it this way because a lot of the elements are still crunchy—the peanuts, pretzels, Reese’s pieces—but the whole mix is a bit creamier. It’s a bit like a candy bark that way. Both ways work (although, I would say the hard crack would be best for putting in cute little baggies and distributing as gifts). Whatever bakes your cookie. Or caramels your corn.

Monster Munch Halloween Party Mix

I went with the standard Halloween candy add-ins, but as I was browsing the candy displays, I saw so many fun additions that would work. You could throw in candy eyes for a really spooky treat. Or even those candy pumpkins (those were always a little bit too much for my tastes). You could also drizzle on some different candy melts—black and green would be fun and festive, too!

Monster Munch Halloween Party Mix

I promise I’ll post something with some vegetables later on. Now that my houseguests have left, it’s time for me to get back to my normal, kale-heavy diet.

Enjoy! Happy Halloween!

Peanut Butter Monster Munch Halloween Party Mix

Total Time: 20 minutes

Yield: 24 servings

Peanut Butter Monster Munch Halloween Party Mix

This fun and festive peanut butter Halloween party mix will satisfy you sweet tooth!

Ingredients

  • 12 cups air-popped popcorn
  • 3 cups mini-twist pretzels
  • 1 cup roasted, salted peanuts
  • 1 cup candy corn
  • 1 cup Reese's Pieces
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • Orange candy melts and sprinkles for garnish

Instructions

  1. In a very large bowl, mix together the popcorn, pretzels, peanuts, candy corn, and Reese's pieces. Set aside.
  2. In a medium saucepan, bring the honey, sugar, salt, peanut butter and butter to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Boil without stirring for five minutes. Remove from heat, and drizzle caramel over popcorn mixture. Stir to coat.
  3. Spread the popcorn mixture onto two baking sheets covered in parchment. Drizzle with melted candy melts and top with holiday sprinkles. Let cool completely, then break apart to serve.
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How to Make a Birthday Beer Cake

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Posted on Oct 15, 2014 in Fun

How to Make a Beer-thday Cake

Beer Birthday Cake

Earlier this week, I told you all about the actual birthday cake I made for my husband’s 30th birthday this past week, now, it’s time for me to show you the other cake I made for him—a beer-thday cake!

This was such a fun (and easy) gift to put together for him. We’re craft beer lovers, and I knew for a while I wanted to get him 30 different brews for 30 years on the planet—but I couldn’t quite figure out how to put it together in a fun way. Then, I saw a beer-can cake on display at some grocery store (made with crappy beer, but that’s not the point), and I knew I wanted to recreate it for him with a variety of craft brews. A few weeks later, Craig happened to pin a beer-thday cake to his Pinterest wish list board, and I knew it was meant to be.

Beer Birthday Cake

The first step was to do some beer shopping. We’re very lucky to have an awesome liquor store nearby that specializes in single-bottle sales of a huge variety of craft beers from around the world—narrowing it down to 30 was really hard! I also wanted to try and make sure to get bottles of even heights to keep the cake steady. I’m sure I looked like a total lunatic measuring beer bottles in the store.

Beer Birthday Cake

In the end, I decided to do three layers. The bottom layer was 16 bottles, the middle layer was 10 cans, and the top layer was four more bottles. There were quite a few brews I wanted to get that only came in cans, so instead of skipping them completely, I decided to devote a whole layer to canned beers.

Beer Birthday Cake

I also picked up 12″ cake boards from the craft store (to make the layers), plus ribbon, decorative floral picks, star garland, and glitter paper to make it all fun and festive.

Before we headed out for dinner on his birthday, I kicked him out of the house for a few minutes—don’t worry, I didn’t leave him out in the cold on his birthday, I sent him down the street to my parents’ house for a birthday cocktail—while I assembled the beer cake.

First went down one of the cake boards.

Beer Birthday Cake

Then I arranged 16 beer all around the circle.

Beer Birthday Cake

I wanted to make sure the cake had a nice sturdy base, and 16 seemed to do the trick.

Beer Birthday Cake

Next up went the second circle.

Beer Birthday Cake

Followed by the canned beers.

Beer Birthday Cake

I used 10 canned beers, and it worked out, but I would have preferred one or two more on the layer for added stability. I’d say this cake would probably work the best with 33-35 beers.

Next up went the final cake board.

Beer Birthday Cake

And then I topped it with four topper beers. These were the odd height beers I wanted to get him—they all went on top since there is nothing that needs to balance on them.

Beer Birthday Cake

Then I wrapped each layer in ribbon, stuck in the decorative picks, and wrapped the whole thing in star garland.  I also cut “30” out of the glitter cardstock, attached it to a wooden skewer with tape, and stuck it in the top of the cake.

Beer Birthday Cake

And then, just to be really nice and obnoxious, I spread confetti all around the cake (and promptly locked the cat in the basement—because I don’t even want to know what a cat does with a table full of confetti and a precarious stack of beer bottles).

Beer Birthday Cake

He was so excited about this! I’m sure he would have been just as excited if I plopped 30 beers in a box, but I think making them into a cake made his big, milestone birthday just a little bit more special. The most time-consuming part of the whole process was picking out the beers for him (which I loved doing, because I know I’ll be sipping on them, too). It was a great gift! He was so sad when we had to take it apart (see the previous cat comment), and he loved looking at all the different bottles so much, he didn’t want to put any of them in the fridge!

Cheers!