What's Happenin'

A Sidelines blog

Good Food Hunting: Brownie Batter Dip

January 25, 2014 By: janwest Category: What's Happenin'

By Kat Nielsen

Brownie batter dip is the delicious flavor of brownies in dippable form without eggs or flour.

Brownie batter dip is the delicious flavor of brownies in dippable form without eggs or flour.

Brownie Batter Dip is an appetizer, great party food and serious craving satisfier. Melted chocolate is mixed in to a basic cream cheese frosting (hello, there’s nothing quite like eating frosting), and heightened with the addition of cocoa powder. Served with potato chips and pretzels to keeps your creation salty and sweet, enjoyable by everyone. Chocolate in the most versatile form. So sit back and enjoy your Live Stream of the Winter Equestrian Festival, for the #Brinssert Revolution (details in the March edition of Sidelines), or as you enjoy the newly debuted Sidelines TV.

To full plates and eating your tarte out,

Dipping salty snacks into brownie batter dip satiates serious cravings.

Dipping salty snacks into brownie batter dip satiates serious cravings.

Brownie Batter Dip

10 ounces of chocolate chips
8 ounces of cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup of unsalted butter, softened
2 cups of powdered sugar, sifted
1/2 cup of cocoa powder, sifted
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1/4 teaspoon of salt
2 tablespoons of milk

Melt your chocolate over a double boiler until creamy. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 10-15 minutes.

Combine together the cream cheese and butter, mixing on medium speed for 1-2 minutes. Add in your melted chocolate and continue mixing. Next, add in the powdered sugar and cocoa powder. Once incorporated fully, stir in the remainder of your ingredients. Mix on medium speed, adding more milk for a creamier, less dense mixture.

Serve with fruit, potato chips, animal crackers or pretzels.

About the writer: Author Kat Nielsen (Tarte Chic) is a horse enthusiast turned food blogger. She maintains a day job handling marketing and brand support to various companies while enjoying her evenings and weekends writing recipes and blogging all about her culinary experiences. Visit her blog at EatYourTarteOut.com or email her at tartechic@eatyourtarteout.com.

Good Food Hunting: New Uses for Old Things

January 16, 2014 By: janwest Category: What's Happenin'

By Kat Nielsen

Being eco-conscious is about not only helping ourselves and our animals thrive, but the world around us too. There are so many initiatives to get involved with that sometimes it’s a bit daunting. Baby steps are usually what it takes most people to change their lifestyle and not break back into old habits. Take recycling for example. Many people don’t, and it’s a very sad fact that impacts overflowing landfills and more natural resources being burned up. But even if your town doesn’t have it available, would you be willing to make the time and find a way to do so? If you’re being honest and you say, ‘well how do I start small?”, then I may be able to help.

I was inspired to show everyone small ways to help mother nature out by simply reusing what we have in our homes, especially things we find and use in our kitchens. This blog post in a lot of ways was inspired by an article on Real Simple‘s website. I took some of their ideas, but also wanted to showcase some additional ones I’ve seen that farm and horse owners could implement easily and effectively.

Photo courtesy of Pinterest

Seedling started in egg shells, which can be planted right into the soil when ready to sow. Photo courtesy of Pinterest

Egg Shell Seedling Starters. Kind of brilliant if you ask me! Egg shells are a great way to bring nutrients into the soil, so rather than buying seedling starter packs, save your shells! Add dirt and seeds, and simply start your growing. When you’re ready to plant, pop the whole thing in the ground!

Use old tic tac boxes to store supplements, salt, medication or even bobby pins. Image via Pinterest.

Use old tic tac boxes to store supplements, salt, medication or even bobby pins. Image via Pinterest.

Tic Tac Box Salt Dispenser– The Tic Tac Box can have a lot of uses, personally for me I think of it as a great storage device for salt (like Celtic sea salt) to take with me when I’m out and about. If you have one horse and you’re feeding one teaspoon two times daily, this little box should store enough for a week when you’re gone at a show. It will be no big deal if someone knocks it over, or even gets it wet versus a larger bag. You can also use one to store doses of bute or some other medication for the barn staff. In an emergency, your horses supply is readily accessible without giving up a whole bottle to the barn. Don’t forget tic tac boxes also work great to store bobby pins, perfect for your show clothes bag!

Cat toy made from a sock. Image courtesy of Etsy/Pinterest.

Cat toy made from a sock. Image courtesy of Etsy/Pinterest.

DIY Pet Toy– Everyone always  has extra icky dish towels that probably should just be discarded. But rather than throwing them in the trash, make a cat toy! Doing so doesn’t require any fancy sewing skills, if you do have those skills, you can use this idea as a launching pad to keep your barn cat entertained for hours! Fill with catnip, add adornments and keep your cat out from under your feet. You could also tear it into strips and braid it to keep your dog occupied as well.

Melon baller from OXO works great to reach supplements in deep bags. Image courtesy of Amazon.

Melon baller from OXO works great to reach supplements in deep bags. Image courtesy of Amazon.

Melon Baller Scoop– Do you get tired of trying to reach the bottom of a bag or container when your supplement is more than halfway out? Reuse that melon baller that sits around in your kitchen for most of the year! Nothing special, but just helps alleviate headaches.

Use leftover popcorn tins for cat food, supplements or show supplies. Photo via The Fickle Hobbyist

Use leftover popcorn tins for cat food, supplements or show supplies. Photo via The Fickle Hobbyist

Horse Supplement Tin– Every year these popcorn tins seem to surface around the holidays. It would be pretty fun and a good project for the kids in the barn to “collect” them and turn them into something useful. Have a party at the barn where everyone spray paints and decorates their horses own tin. Then you have a place to keep your supplements where prying mice don’t stand a chance and make the feed room look pulled together! You could also repurpose them for the barn cat’s food or as totes for horse show supplies.

Use leftover wine bottles to water your plants in a low maintenance way! Idea and photo via Vintage Cove Girl.

Use leftover wine bottles to water your plants in a low maintenance way! Idea and photo via Vintage Cove Girl.

Wine Bottle Waterer– Most horse people love their wine. It’s a way to unwind and bond with our fellow competitors. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a use for all the empties? Simply rinse out your wine bottle, fill with water, and invert quickly into a planted pot. Self watering at it’s finest! These would work great around the house when you’ll be gone over a long weekend competing. This would not however be recommended throughout your garden, because knowing most horses, if one were to get loose, they would find the glass and a pricey vet bill would soon ensue.

Use an old garlic press for the barn pill crusher. Photo via Amazon/OXO.

Use an old garlic press for the barn pill crusher. Photo via Amazon/OXO.

Pill Crusher– Even as an avid cook, I have had very little use for this tool in the kitchen, but where it comes in handy is in the barn. Rather than bringing out the coffee grinder or mortar and pestle, use this baby to strengthen your arms and crush pills for your horse.  And the best part, it’s dishwasher safe.

Newspaper Mulch– Newspaper comes cheap, most times free and laying around the house. Repurposes it to keep weeds at bay and add compost to your soil. This is great for people who are competing all summer and don’t have time to remove weeds from their gardens.

About the writer: Author Kat Nielsen is a horse enthusiast turned food blogger. She maintains a day job in the horse world handling marketing and brand support to various companies while enjoying her evenings and weekends writing recipes and blogging all about her culinary experiences. Visit her blog at EatYourTarteOut.com or email her at tartechic@eatyourtarteout.com.

Good Food Hunting: Lemon Chia Seed Cake

January 09, 2014 By: janwest Category: What's Happenin'

By Kat Nielsen

Lemon chia seed cake is an alternative to lemon poppy seed cake only with no grains!

Lemon chia seed cake is an alternative to lemon poppy seed cake, only with no grains!

Lemon chia seed cake is an alternative to lemon poppy seed cake with  a ton more nutrition and get this, no grains!

My personal blog, Eat Your Tarte Out is a place where anyone can come to learn more about cooking and baking. On occasion, I’m presented with challenges by individuals, and that’s exactly what happened in this recipe. My rider friend and colleague wanted me to create a version of lemon poppyseed cake, but with no grains. At the end of my experimenting, I was so surprised with the results- it tasted absolutely phenomenal!

What I came up with in this recipe was a way to combine what most people had in their homes, with a few specialty ingredients. I’m not trying to reinvent the wheel, just make things a bit more healthier and tailored to this person’s diet.  Take chia seeds for example, they’re one of nature’s nutritional powerhouses. Packed with tons of Omega 3’s, protein, vitamins and minerals, and with a unique gelling ability, chia seeds should become a staple in your pantry for all the benefits!

Chia seeds provide a complete amino acid profile including Lysine and Proline. Proline is a key constituent of collagen. Chia's antioxidant content is higher than blueberries.

Chia seeds provide a complete amino acid profile including Lysine and Proline. Proline is a key constituent of collagen. Chia’s antioxidant content is higher than blueberries.

For the flour components of this recipe, I opted for almond flour and quinona flour. Almond flour rarely gets fine enough unless bought for commercial use, therefor you’ll have to try and find almond meal or make it yourself from slivered almonds. You start off by baking the almonds at 350 degrees on a baking sheet, in a single layer for about 10-15 minutes. The almonds can brown slightly, but be careful not to get too much color on them. After they have cooled, you put them in your food processor to get a fine ground meal. Over processing a nut that has excess moisture will turn into butter, so this method of drying works well to help you achieve your desired meal. In this recipe, I also opted to use quinoa flour. Because of the grittiness of almond meal, I wanted to make a more desirable texture in the end cake so I needed a non-grain flour preferably packed with tons of ingredients. However, if you haven’t used it yet, beware. The first time I used it and had it activated with butter, I almost ‘lost my lunch’ due to the smell and taste. Non-cooked quinona emits a very bitter smell and taste to ward off prey in the wild. When it reaches a certain temperature, that bitterness gets removed. It was after much research I gave it another shot in my cake recipe. If you can maintain your sniffer through putting the cake together and baking it (DO NOT try the batter), the results will be well worth it.

If you have any questions or comments, please let me know, but I look forward to you trying this no grain recipe!

To full plates and eating your tarte out!

Lemon Chia Seed Cake

1 cup of unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup of sugar
1/2 cup of almond meal
3/4 cup of quinoa flour
1 teaspoon of lemon zest
2 teaspoons of baking powder
2 tablespoons of chia seeds
1/4 teaspoon of salt
2 eggs
Juice from one freshly squeezed lemon
1 teaspoon of vanilla
2 cups of confectioners sugar

Position oven racks to the middle and reheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9″ cake pan and set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the lemon zest, baking powder, quinoa flour, almond meal, chia seeds and salt. Set aside. Cream together the butter and sugar until pale in color, about two to three minutes. Scrape down the sides and add in the the eggs, mixing till combined. Add in the flour mixture and mix until just incorporated.  Spread out evenly into the buttered pan and bake until golden brown on top, 20-25 minutes.

In another small bowl, combine the lemon juice, vanilla and powdered sugar to make a glaze. Keep stirring to remove lumps. Pour the glaze onto the warm cake and spread out evenly. Let cool completely before cutting.

About the writer: Author Kat Nielsen is a horse enthusiast turned food blogger. She maintains a day job in the horse world handling marketing and brand support to various companies while enjoying her evenings and weekends writing recipes and blogging all about her culinary experiences. Visit her blog at EatYourTarteOut.com or email her at tartechic@eatyourtarteout.com.

Good Food Hunting: Food Resolutions for You and Your Horse

January 03, 2014 By: janwest Category: What's Happenin'

By Kat Nielsen

Farmers markets have a wonderful bounty of fresh produce picked at the peak of nutritional value. Shopping local not only helps your health, but it helps your community too!

Farmers markets have a wonderful bounty of fresh produce picked at the peak of nutritional value. Shopping local not only helps your health, but it helps your community too!

It’s not often when both you and your horse can follow the same set of guidelines in life. When it comes to setting goals/rules/guidelines/resolutions for the way you eat, some pretty easy changes can be made to better the lives of you and your four legged friend. Cheers to saying goodbye to 2013, and starting off 2014 on the right foot!

1. Shop local. Even if you can only buy fresh carrots for you and your horse once during the summer from a local farmer, that small amount of cash will stay in your community. Obviously the more you buy, the more the farmer and you will benefit.  It’s of course cash flow, but in terms of your ecological footprint. Did you know that on average from time of harvest to consumption, it could be as much as two weeks before that fruit or vegetable enters your body? That’s a tremendous amount of time in between. More than likely this means that your fruit or vegetable was harvested underripe, valuable nutrients were lost during storage, all before it finally getting to you. If you buy local, you’re almost guaranteed that that farmer worked tirelessly the day of, or day before the market to ensure beautiful produce that was just picked, at the peak of nutrition.

Shop locally and show some local love!

Shop locally and show some local love!

2. Read labels. Companies spend a tremendous amount of time setting up their labels with a lot of valuable information. The front of the container will usually showcase the main points of the product. What I find valuable is the organizations, standards or practices the product falls under. While the equine industry may not have a lot of verification processes like we do with USDA Organic or Non-GMO verified, there are some things like National Animal Supplement Council which are a third party testing agency helping to verify stated information. If you have a set of guidelines you want to follow for both your diet and your horse’s, you can look for these key symbols to identify with each time you go to make a purchase.

Even the front of this packaging tells you a lot about the company. What do you see?

Even the front of this packaging tells you a lot about the company. What do you see?

3. Understand your ingredients. Processed food of any kind will more than likely contain ingredients which you’re unsure of. If you can’t pronounce it or don’t know what it is, look it up! Not only will you learn more about our food systems, you may even find something lurking which you don’t care for (Castoreum-ick!).

4. Learn what things to buy organic. Some produce is genetically modified, others have such high levels of pesticide and insecticide – it’s staggering! Going organic is the best way to avoid these things. but if your budget can’t afford it, then there’s information out there to help you make the best informed decisions. Find out what crops are most susceptible to genetic modification and which are high in harsh residual chemicals. The more you know, the better you’ll feel!

An ingredient label is something that can be mastered. By breaking it down, a person can understand the types of processing a manufacturer uses and their practices.

An ingredient label is something that can be mastered. By breaking it down, a person can understand the types of processing a manufacturer uses and their practices.

5. Buy the best you can afford. Sometimes convenience is just that, convenient. But when our health is at risk and we’re feeding into that long term, it may not be the best case scenario for our health. Indulge when you have the means and make informed decisions in the interim.

6. Grow what you can. Just like your cat may enjoy fresh catnip, your horse might enjoy some grass when the weather is anything but desirable. Of course your horse can eat a lot more grass than probably you can grow, so consider starting small with herbs you can both enjoy. Something like holy basil is a great stress reliever for both you and your horse. Put a little under your own pillow to help you sleep better, or enjoy feeding it to your horse for similar calming benefits. 

Growing your own plants from seeds is easy, and will reward you year in and year out as you collect the bounty and reap the benefits.

Growing your own plants from seeds is easy, and will reward you year in and year out as you collect the bounty and reap the benefits.

7. Stock up. Buying in bulk has some awesome benefits. If you can join up with others in your barn or around your home, that’s the best place to start. You can save money of course, but sometimes you can get product before it goes mainstream. For example buying in wholesale or from a distributor usually means you get first dibs on it. Items can sit in warehouses or barns for extended periods of time in unknown conditions. It works in your favor to get in before shipments arrive, or even the item is produced to reserve your order and claim stake.

8. Make what you can ahead of time. “Try” to plan out a few days or even a week of meals, that way you always have convenient food on your side. If you’re feeding certain things to your horse, stock up first and then spend a day divvying up your spoils. The barn staff will love you and your horse will benefit from the extra care. For you in your home, plan out meals while you can. Take a day to get your ingredients purchased and prep work done. Make a roast in the beginning of the week, chop up leftovers for tacos, and use any bones for a base for a vegetable soup. It’s a great way to utilize time and money, of which you probably could use more knowing you’re into horses.

Buying in bulk has huge benefits, your horse sure would be in heaven in a place like this!

Buying in bulk has huge benefits, your horse sure would be in heaven in a place like this!

9. Save scraps. Most horses are happy if you’re bringing treats out to them, they love being spoiled. You can save money by feeding them celery tops, carrot tops, apple cores and even mushy bananas. Find out what your horse likes and save bits here and there. As for human folk, cheese rinds work amazing in soup and sauces (just throw them in the freezer till ready to use). Extra vegetable pieces and bones can be frozen for making stock.

10. Take time to enjoy your food. Your horse may not be able to slow down gobbling up an apple, but if it’s cut into pieces you know it would take longer time to indulge. It may not make much a difference to him, but for you it’s a rare time to sit back and enjoy watching the pleasure of him indulging. That goes for you too, put down the smartphone and taste what you’re eating- someone went through a lot of work to get that food to your plate!

Capturing my excitement on film as I finally get my hands on Laduree macaons. What foods excite you and allow you to live out the finer moments in life?

Capturing my excitement on film as I finally get my hands on Laduree macaons. What foods excite you and allow you to live out the finer moments in life?

Wishing everyone a great start to this new year! To full plates and eating your tarte out.

About the writer: Author Kat Nielsen is a horse enthusiast turned food blogger. She maintains a day job in the horse world handling marketing and brand support to various companies while enjoying her evenings and weekends writing recipes and blogging all about her culinary experiences. Visit her blog at EatYourTarteOut.com or email her at tartechic@eatyourtarteout.com.

Good Food Hunting: Roasted Brussels Sprouts

December 27, 2013 By: janwest Category: What's Happenin'

By Kat Nielsen

Finished roasted Brussels sprouts with pecans.

Roasted Brussels sprouts with pecans and brown butter.

Roasting these mini cabbages brings out awesome flavor, but pairing them with nutty brown butter and sweet pecans, they becomes a dreamy side dish for eating “lesser vegetables” and all taste.

Trimming the bottoms of the Brussels sprouts, preparing them for baking.

Trimming the bottoms of the Brussels sprouts, preparing them for baking.

Roasting almost any vegetable is a usually a surefire way to success. I’ve found many converts to beets and Brussels sprouts because of this method of cooking. You start this process by coating your vegetables in oil, and roast at a high temperature to bring out the natural sweetness. In the case of the Brussels sprout, the cabbage flavor mellows out which is usually why most people stay away from these guys.

With the addition of brown butter, you get a really lovely nutty flavor that coats everything. To understand brown butter, you start but realizing that butter is just water and milk solids. When you cook the butter, it’s usually over a saucepan and continually stirred. As the water evaporates, the milk solids start to brown and create a very aromatic sauce, with amazing taste. It’s that unique flavor you can add to baked goods, roasting and just about anything where you’d use butter to amp things up a bit.

Brown butter, this is an incorrect example with too many browned/burned bits at the bottom. Yours should be equally tanned and nutty in aroma.

Brown butter, this is an incorrect example with too many browned/burned bits at the bottom. Yours should be equally tanned and nutty in aroma.

Last but not least, are the addition of toasted nuts to the Brussels sprouts. I love pecans, and because they’re iconic of the holiday season I love adding them in this recipe. Of course you can substitute hickory nuts, or even hazelnuts for that extra crunch factor.

Enjoy your roasting and the taste of the season!

To full plates and eating your tarte out,

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pecans

2 pounds of fresh Brussels sprouts
3 tablespoons of olive oil
1/4 cup of butter, unsalted
1 cup of pecan pieces (or hickory nuts)
Salt and Pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Trim the base of your Brussels sprouts and remove any bruised leaves. If your Brussels Sprouts are extra large, be sure to halve them down the middle. Place into a baking dish large enough to let your Brussels sprouts spread out onto one even layer.

Pour olive oil onto Brussels sprouts and toss to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for fifteen minutes.

In the interim, heat your butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Continue stirring. Butter will foam, it is after this point that you’re looking for a light tan color and nutty aroma. Remove from heat once this is achieved.

Remove Brussels sprouts from oven, pour butter over top and sprinkle with pecans. Stir to coat. Bake for an additional ten to fifteen minutes or until largest Brussels sprouts can be easily pierced with a knife.

Remove Brussels sprouts from oven, serve immediately.

About the writer: Author Kat Nielsen is a horse enthusiast turned food blogger. She maintains a day job in the horse world handling marketing and brand support to various companies, while enjoying her evenings and weekends writing recipes and blogging all about her culinary experiences. Visit her blog at EatYourTarteOut.com or email her at tartechic@eatyourtarteout.com.

Good Food Hunting: Pecan Tassies

December 19, 2013 By: janwest Category: What's Happenin'

By Kat Nielsen

Gooey centers and butter tender crusts are why pecan tassies are such a favorite in my home!

Gooey centers and butter tender crusts are why pecan tassies are such a favorite in my home!

Pecan tassies aka mini pecan tarts are a beautiful way to churn out delicious baked goods in a crunch before the holidays (thirty minutes or less). Even if you need a last minute gift idea for your trainer or for your local tack store, the tassies wrap up beautifully and transport well for gifting or receiving.

Miniature desserts are generally more time consuming, and I’ll agree with you on that. But the reason I turn to this recipe in the countdown before Christmas is that it takes just as long to make the dough and filling as cookies, and pressing the tart dough into your mini muffin tin is actually quite therapeutic- mashing and pressing down does get excess frustrations out, especially on repeat. The baking time is just under twenty minutes, and that’s for twenty four delicious pecan tarts….not bad, huh? And even if you are watching your waistline, you won’t feel near as bad indulging in one tassie at a time.

Pecan tassies don't require a lot of heavy lifting -easy, delicious and look beautiful!

Pecan tassies don’t require a lot of heavy lifting -easy, delicious and look beautiful!

P.S. They also freeze well.

P.P.S. Mom’s recipe always said to make a double batch. Do it.

To full plates and eating your tarte out,

Tassies made with hickory nuts or pecans make a wonderful holiday treat.

Tassies made with hickory nuts or pecans make a wonderful holiday treat.

Pecan Tassies

3 ounces of cream cheese
1/2 cup of unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1 cup of flour
3/4 cup of brown sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1 egg
1 tablespoon of unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup of ground pecans or hickory nuts
1 teaspoon of white vinegar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a small bowl, combine cream cheese and butter. Add in the salt and flour till just combined. Using a mini muffin tin, press in a heaping teaspoon of dough to cover the bottoms and sides of the tin. Set aside.

In a large bowl combine the remaining ingredients. Mix till throughly combined. Fill the crusts to about 1/4″ from the top, do not overfill.

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until tops are set and crust is lightly brown. Allow to cool in pan. Remove gently, use a butter knife as needed.

About the writer: Author Kat Nielsen is a horse enthusiast turned food blogger. She maintains a day job in the horse world handling marketing and brand support to various companies, while enjoying her evenings and weekends writing recipes and blogging all about her culinary experiences. Visit her blog at EatYourTarteOut.com or email her at tartechic@eatyourtarteout.com.

Good Food Hunting: Tips for Holiday Baking

December 12, 2013 By: janwest Category: What's Happenin'

By Kat Wojtylak

Don’t let holiday baking ruin all your fun and the special moments around the holidays. Instead, embrace one of the busiest times of the year for your oven and showcase holiday spreads and your gifts with awesome skills and minimal stress. Baking is an inexpensive and special way to show someone or your horse you care. Here’s just a few tips to utilize what little time you have and make the most of your holiday baking.

Sugar Cookies pressed with a vintage glass leave you with beautiful results and zero hassle of cutouts.

Sugar Cookies pressed with a vintage glass leave you with beautiful results and zero hassle of cutouts.

Baking Tip 1: If you don’t have time for cutouts, don’t make them! They’re super labor intensive. Instead, consider sugar cookies pressed with a vintage glass or just a regular drinking glass. You can add colored sugar and make them even more festive. And if you have kiddos in the house, they can still help with this. Checkout Grandma Glinda’s Sugar Cookies or White Chocolate Dipped Gingersnap Cookies.

Gingersnap cookies pressed with a glass warrant sparkly delicious results.

Gingersnap cookies pressed with a glass warrant sparkly delicious results.

Baking Tip 2: On the cookie front, consider another alternative to cutouts in bar cookies! Rather that forming them into individual shapes or even scooping them out, it works well to just put the batter into a baking pan or jelly roll pan and bake the whole thing! Extra baking time will be required of course, unless you use a no bake option like Peanut Butter Bars with Crispies. Cut them up using a sharp knife and wrap in pretty paper.

Peanut Butter Bars with Crispies or other goods formed in a single pan make for easy prep and even easier cleanup.

Peanut Butter Bars with Crispies or other goods formed in a single pan make for easy prep and even easier cleanup.

Baking Tip 3: Try not to use a recipe you haven’t had sufficient time to try.  There’s nothing like waiting till the last minute and the recipe falling to shambles. If you garnered your recipe online, look at reviews or talk to people who have made them before. Lots of times they can provide valuable insight so if you do decide to go new this year, you’ll have a better chance of success.

Baking Tip 4: Learn how to properly scoop flour so that you get consistent results every time. Scooping flour with your measuring scoop can actually result in tough baked goods as you’re taking away valuable moisture with the extra flour. The best way to measure out flour in a recipe is to first fluff, aka stir your flour in its canister. Then you sprinkle the flour into your measuring cup and finally level off the cup. This should result in a perfect amount every time to give you consistency when baking. This is all determined by weight so if you have a scale, try it out and see!

Baking Tip 5: Enlist help! Wrangle a family member into helping your prepare, or consider a cookie exchange. Play hostess to a group of individuals and provide the drinks. Each person brings a decided upon amount of one type of cookie. At the end of the party, depending on how many people show up, you can leave with a variety of cookies from each member. Or just spend a weekend with the girls and bake cookies together, laughing and enjoying what the holidays should be about!

Fathers and other family members make for great helpers when starting in on holiday baking.

Fathers and other family members make for great helpers when starting in on holiday baking.

Baking Tip 6: Personalize your baking so it stands apart. Consider using a stencil and sift powdered sugar, cinnamon or cocoa over top. You can also do this with frothy beverages to leave your stamp on a not-so-permanent delectable.

Cocoa sifted over a stencil leaves a beautifully impressive (but easy) imprint. This is Queen Elizabeth's!

Cocoa sifted over a stencil leaves a beautifully impressive (but easy) imprint. This is Queen Elizabeth’s!

Baking Tip 7: Consider quick breads….after all they’re quick! You can make carrot versions for your favorite horse friend, banana bread or even fruit cake for anyone on your list. They’re usually one bowl wonders and if you make them in pretty disposable containers, you’re one step closer to getting the job done.

Paper Pans from King Arthur Flour making baking and taking so much easier!

Paper Pans from King Arthur Flour make baking and taking so much easier!

Banana Bread or Gingerbread make great gifts for families.

Banana Bread or Gingerbread make great gifts for families.

Baking Tip 8: Learn how to make cupcakes and more in mason jars! They’re another great way to present gifts and you can personalize the outside with ribbons, tags and anything your heart desires! Not to mention no cleanup after baking!

Cupcakes in a jar can be dressed up or down depending on your preferences and gifting tastes.

Cupcakes in a jar can be dressed up or down depending on your preferences and gifting tastes.

Baking Tip 9: Don’t fret if you don’t want to make goods from scratch! Store bought or pre-made gifts can be personalized so that the recipient would never know that you didn’t do the heavy lifting. Try adding special toppers that are unique, such as Harbor Sweets Sweet Sloops Ice Cream Topper, or fancy sprinkles. You could even buy extra of your toppings and gift them some of their own to have fun with!

Using store-bought is just fine! Jazz it up with special toppers or sprinkles to make it uniquely delicious!

Using store-bought is just fine! Jazz it up with special toppers or sprinkles to make it uniquely delicious!

Baking Tip 10: Have fun! Find a style that works best for you and embrace it. If your skills aren’t with homemade from scratch items, buy pre made and personalize. You could also wrap it and present it in a fun way. Just don’t get carried away in the stress, this should be enjoyable after all!

Have fun with frosting! Just add a bit of color and no muss, no fuss beautiful baked goods!

Have fun with frosting! Just add a bit of color and no muss, no fuss beautiful baked goods!

Wishing you all a wonderful holiday, and if you have any questions at all, feel free to email me anytime tartechic@eatyourtarteout.com.

To full plates and eating your tarte out.

About the writer: Author Kat Wojtylak is a horse enthusiast turned food blogger. She maintains a day job in the horse world handling marketing and brand support to various companies, while enjoying her evenings and weekends writing recipes and blogging all about her culinary experiences. Visit her blog at EatYourTarteOut.com or email her at tartechic@eatyourtarteout.com.

Good Food Hunting: Featherbed Rolls

December 05, 2013 By: janwest Category: What's Happenin'

By Kat Wojtylak

A batch of fresh rolls ready for the table.

A batch of fresh rolls ready for the table.

As you can imagine these rolls are light, fluffy and are perfect for any holiday meal. Without kneading or any special tools to make them, they’re a hostess’ (or hosts’) ideal accompaniment to their evening meal. I like them just because equestrians may not have time to master bread as they’re working tirelessly on improving their marks instead. And just like the name suggests, these are a dream to make.

Featherbed rolls straight out of the oven.

Featherbed rolls straight out of the oven.

These rolls do require rise times and the ever complicated ingredient, yeast, but the flavor produces really delicious rolls. I do explain yeast a bit more in depth in another blog post which will allow you to conquer your fears of yeast, or just understand it better.  Feel free to add in some fresh herbs, cheese and make them your own! And if you have questions, you know where to find me.

To full plates and eating your tarte out.

Featherbed Rolls

Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups of milk
1/2 cup of butter
2 teaspoons of sugar
1 package of active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
5 cups of flour
Sea salt

In a large saucepan, scald milk and remove from the heat. Discard the film that has formed on the top of the milk. Add the butter and stir, let cool until mixture is lukewarm.

In 1/4 cup of warm water, add your yeast and sugar, stirring gently. Allow the yeast to proof (if foam doesn’t appear, start this step over).

Sift the flour into a large bowl. Mix together the cooled milk mixture and proofed yeast until fully incorporated.

Oil another large bowl and place batter into it. Cover with saran wrap and allow to rise until doubled.

Butter two muffin pans. Scoop risen dough into muffin pans, about 1/3 full. Sprinkle with sea salt. Cover with dishtowel and place in a warm area. Let rise until dough has doubled.

Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Serve immediately.

About the writer: Author Kat Wojtylak is a horse enthusiast turned food blogger. She maintains a day job in the horse world handling marketing and brand support to various companies, while enjoying her evenings and weekends writing recipes and blogging all about her culinary experiences. Visit her blog at EatYourTarteOut.com or email her at tartechic@eatyourtarteout.com.

Good Food Hunting: Dark Horse Chocolates

November 27, 2013 By: janwest Category: What's Happenin'

By Kat Wojtylak

Full Cry chocolate by Dark Horse Chocolates- Almond Butter Crunch in Milk Chocolate.

Full Cry chocolate by Dark Horse Chocolates- Almond Butter Crunch in Milk Chocolate.

We love horses, and many of us love chocolates. You probably didn’t think you could combine the two, but yes….it certainly is true. Dark Horse Chocolates was launched in 1992 by Phyllis LeBlanc. During graduate school she envisioned a line of gifts for equestrians that she could give out to the people at the barn. Her business plan was so intriguing that Harbor Sweets (where she was working at the time), was able to launch the line and pay for all development costs within four weeks. Dark Horse Chocolates has now since expanded, offering great gifts for equestrians year round. Little did Phyllis know that her part time job as a candy dipper would lead her down the path of becoming CEO of Harbor Sweets which is now celebrating forty successful years.

NOTE: If you missed Phyllis’ first interview, visit this link to learn about her background with horses and how Harbor Sweets came about.

This magnificent assortment is complete with both milk and dark chocolates from Dark Horse Chocolates English and Hunt collections. It is easy to pick your favorite from this presentation of unfoiled chocolates!

This magnificent assortment is complete with both milk and dark chocolates from Dark Horse Chocolates English and Hunt collections. It is easy to pick your favorite from this presentation of unfoiled chocolates!

KW: Hi Phyllis and thanks so much for joining us again. Where exactly did the name Dark Horse Chocolates come from?

PB: At the time I had a big (17.3h) black Hanoverian named Able.  He was the inspiration for the name, and we liked the concept of “the dark horse” coming out of nowhere and being a winner!

KW: Gotta love the underdog! Tell us about the line of chocolates and how each individual “horse” relates to a different flavor. How did you decide on these combinations?

PB: We took the most popular flavors of chocolates that we had and combined them with the disciplines that we thought would appeal to the most people. We have a Grand Prix Jumper which is a butter caramel in dark chocolate. Then we have the Dressage Classic which is an almond butter crunch in dark chocolate. The Peppermint Ponies are dark chocolate and peppermint crunch and Sea Biscuits are a running thoroughbred who is peanut butter on a mini biscuit covered in milk chocolate. Then we have our hunt series which includes Full Cry (almond butter crunch and milk chocolate), Fox Trot (butter caramel in milk chocolate) and Tallyho (solid milk chocolate).

KW: You always make me hungry for chocolate! What is your favorite?

PB: Whichever one I’m eating at the moment!

This handsome fabric box, handmade by a local artisan, features a Conte Crayon drawing by Jocelyn Sandor Urban. Filled with a 16 piece assortment of milk and dark chocolates, this gift will thrill all your favorite equestrians!

This handsome fabric box, handmade by a local artisan, features a Conte Crayon drawing by Jocelyn Sandor Urban. Filled with a 16 piece assortment of milk and dark chocolates, this gift will thrill all your favorite equestrians!

KW: That sounds like an answer I’d give! But tell us about the photo shoots for your catalog, are they of your horse?

PB: It would be fun to do the photo shoots on location at a farm or my stable but usually we shoot the photos of the chocolates in a studio.  Keep in mind we are photographing the chocolates in the middle of the summer, when it is hot in New England!  The photos of Chiron and me are either from a show or at the stable.

KW: Any special gift ideas for other horse enthusiasts?

PB: Our Dark Horse Chocolates Christmas Calendar makes a wonderful gift.  It has a Dark Horse Chocolate behind each of the twenty five doors leading up to Christmas, with a pony waiting for you on Christmas Day. We also have our Red Sparkle Take Out Box which is filled with our Dressage Classic and Fox Trot chocolates. No gift wrapping required! And then for those special recipients on your list, we have a a Equestrian Fabric Box showcasing four yearlings. It’s filled with an assortment of milk and dark chocolates. What makes it so unique is that the box is a keepsake and can be kept for years to come, even after the chocolates are long gone.

Open one of the 25 doors on each of the 24 days before Christmas. Behind each door is a gold foiled Dark Horse Chocolates treasure. On the 25th day, Christmas morning, you will find the pony you have always wished for.

Open one of the 25 doors on each of the 24 days before Christmas. Behind each door is a gold foiled Dark Horse Chocolates treasure. On the 25th day, Christmas morning, you will find the pony you have always wished for.

KW: So the million dollar question is, where do you sell Dark Horse Chocolates?

PB: Dark Horse Chocolates can be purchased at your local tack shop, or through our catalog or website at Harbor Sweets.

KW: And if that’s not enough, where can people learn more about Dark Horse Chocolates?

Come visit our chocolate factory for a tour at Harbor Sweets, 85 Leavitt Street, Salem, MA 01970.  You may request a catalog or join our email list on our website also.

 

As always it was a pleasure speaking with Phyllis and becoming increasingly hungry for chocolate! A great gift item for those on your list, it’s a way to support small businesses who also happen to have equestrians onboard . Enjoy your shopping and have a safe and happy holiday season!

To full plates and eating your tarte out.

About the writer: Author Kat Wojtylak is a horse enthusiast turned food blogger. She maintains a day job in the horse world handling marketing and brand support to various companies, while enjoying her evenings and weekends writing recipes and blogging all about her culinary experiences. Visit her blog at EatYourTarteOut.com or email her at tartechic@eatyourtarteout.com.

Good Food Hunting: Food and Kitchen Gifts for the Equestrian

November 21, 2013 By: janwest Category: What's Happenin'

By Kat Wojtylak

What do you buy your trainer, barn owner or fellow horse owner? Most times it’s not an easy and straightforward question. That’s why I’ve compiled a few kitchen/food related items that are sure to be unique for your gift giving this holiday season.

French antique knife holder running horse from PARISOUIPARIS.

This Antique Horse Knife Holder Set is perfect for individuals who enjoy dinner parties and like the equestrian flare. These one of a kind set of silver running horses is from the 1920’s and will be a unique element for the recipient. Sold on Etsy, the set of six retails for $79.00.

Harbor Sweets/Dark Horse Chocolates unique and beautiful display of their chocolates in the Heritage Tin.

Harbor Sweets/Dark Horse Chocolates unique and beautiful display of their chocolates in the Homestead Winter Tin.

Dark Horse Chocolates Homestead Tin is filled with an assortment of handmade chocolates courtesy of Harbor Sweets. Each tin contains forty pieces of various chocolates depicting horses including milk and chocolate varieties. When the chocolates are all gone, the recipient has the perfect tin to store and showcase treats for years to come. Retails at $45.00 and is perfect for a barn owner, barn staff, tack room or for any horse owner.

Wild Stallion Horse Magnet, Set of Eight, sold by OriginalAnimalMagnet.

Wild Stallion Horse Magnets are a fun way to dress up the fridge. Who knows, they might even help keep the little ones entertained while you’re trying to serve up a holiday meal. A perfect stocking stuffer for the collegiate equestrian, or a gift for the newly relocated equestrian. Retails for $22.00 and sold on Etsy. Available in other colors.

Dala Horse Screen Printed Horse Glassware by Vital

Dala Horse Screen Printed Pint Glasses are an eclectic four pack that will bring something special to your holiday equestrian gift giving. Sold in green, blue, red and yellow, this four pack is handmade and good for those equestrians who like to drink and be merry! Retails for $42.00.

Vintage Horse Prints Wafer Paper available from Fancy Flours

Vintage Horse Prints Wafer Paper is a baker’s secret to making breathtaking cookies that pay homage to thoroughbred racing. Available from Fancy Flours, this set of twenty two comes in unique prints that are sure to leave recipients and those indulging talking about them for years to come. Retails for $15.00.

Kicking Horse Coffee, 454 Horse Power Blend sold on Amazon.

And last but not least, for those individuals who have a coffee addiction, Kicking Horse Coffee brings you their 454 Horse Power Blend. An organic and fair trade coffee, this blend from Indonesia bring earthy tones with a deep dark flavor to the palate. Available in whole beans. Retails for $25.55 and is sold on Amazon.

I hope you all have a safe and enjoyable holiday season, and if you need help, you know where to find me.

To full plates and eating your tarte out.

About the writer: Author Kat Wojtylak is a horse enthusiast turned food blogger. She maintains a day job in the horse world handling marketing and brand support to various companies, while enjoying her evenings and weekends writing recipes and blogging all about her culinary experiences. Visit her blog at EatYourTarteOut.com or email her at tartechic@eatyourtarteout.com.