Fact of the Week: December 30, 2013

There are an estimated 40 calendars that are currently used world wide. However the most common calendar,  which marks the new year this week,  is the Gregorian calendar.  Which was implemented in 1582 by skipping 10 days in October that year. 



Quick and easy butterbeer

This is for Ron's birthday.  It's nice to make the full on butterbeer  (http://kneadtoknowmo.blogspot.com/2013/07/butterbeer.html). However I don't always have the patience or time for it. So here is my quick and easy butterbeer.  

1 bottle cream soda
1 TBS of butterscotch toppings

makes one glass of butterbeer

Add butterscotch to a large glass. Pour in the soda and gently stir, don't stir too vigorously since it cause the soda to foam. You might want to add some whipped topping, I've used cool whip and home whipped heavy cream. I like the cream better but cool whip is easier.  Then drizzle on more butterscotch for effect. 

Enjoy in your very own house cup! 

Happy birthday Ron. Hope you're drinking some now with Hermonie!

Peppermint Frosting

This is a great way to add a little holiday flare to an old standard. This was my aunts birthday cupcakes, so I made these gluten free cupcakes with the frosting. And added some crushed candy canes to it. Looks pretty good if I do say so myself!

1 stick of butter softened
1 cup of powder sugar
1 tsp of peppermint extract
2 candy canes
(optional: red food coloring)

Blend the butter till creamed. Then add the powdered sugar. Mix till well combined. Finally add in the peppermint extract. (I then added red food coloring to half the batch).

Frost your cupcakes however you want, knife, pastry bag or just a sandwich bag. Stripe the red and white frosting together to get a candy cane look. Mine was put on with a bag, and unfortunately the red bleed into the white too much, and didn't look as stripy as i wanted it too.

Put the candy canes into a sandwich bag, without the plastic wrapping on the canes. Then crush them with a rolling pin. Sprinkle them on top of the frosting and you have one festive cupcake!


Fact of the Week: December 23, 2013

There are two different ideas on when winter officially starts, one is astronomical the other meteorological.  In the astrological definition, the start of winter is on the shortest day of the year, the solstice.  In meteorology winter is defined as the coldest months of the year, being December, January, and February in the northern hemisphere.  Thus winter starts December 1st.


Fact of the Week: December 16, 2013

Jane Austen had only completed six novels at the time of her death, two of which were published posthumous. She also left us one unfinished novel, Sanditon. Nevertheless, her timeless work lives on in over 60 films and tv series based on her novels and in the hearts of her fans worldwide.

Happy 238th Birthday Ms. Austen



Reindeer Cookies

These are so cute to give away for the holidays. I made these last year to give as gifts. They were eaten fast, which is good since the antlers are prone to fall off. The cookie is gluten free, and you can find the recipe here for the cookie. The chocolate covered pretzels, which I like the look of better, are gluten free. However for the taste I enjoyed the slated pretzels best, it give that salty sweet flavor that I love a lot. 

The makings for peanut butter cookies (could make almost any cookie if you wanted, but here is a link for quick peanut butter cookies that I like) 
1 large bag of m&ms
1 bag of pretzels (use gluten free pretzels) 

Once you take the cookies out of the oven set in the pretzels on the top of the cookie at an angle. Place two brown m&m's in the middle of the cookie like eyes. Then add the red m&m as the Rudolph nose! You can have blue and green eyed reindeer as well, which I did after a while since I ran out of brown m&m's. Set on a cooling rack and let the decorations set. Then you will be ready to spread the cheer! 


Fact of the Week: December 8, 2013

Today would have been Admiral Grace Murray Hopper's 107th birthday. Hopper was in the Navy and a very valuable software engineer. Her work lead to many programs we still use today.
To learn more about her, click here: 


Easy Peanut Butter Cookies (Gluten Free)

So I found some form of this recipe on pinterest. I originally tried this with Chocolate Almond Butter from Trader Joe's and it fell a little flat, like literally! They ended up like some kind of brittle rather than a cookie. If you want to try plain Almond butter, please let me know how it goes. I frankly don't want to waste more Almond Butter figuring it out.

Anyway these are quick and very delicious for the peanut butter lover like myself! You could definitely try adding in chocolate chips too!

**Side note: Please excuse my bad photo quality. I only had my camera phone that day.

1 cup peanut butter
1 cup sugar (best to do half white and half brown)
1 egg

Preheat oven to 350 F

Stir together peanut butter, eggs and sugar in a medium bowl. Mix until well combined, to the point that you can form them into nicely mixed cookie balls. Lay them out, with some room between them, on a cookie sheet. I used wax paper to keep the cookies from sticking.

Pop them into the oven and bake them for only 12 minutes or so. You want them to be a golden brown on the edges. Transfer them to a cooling rack and you have some very quick and easy cookies ready to go!



Fact of the Week: December 2, 2013

In the United States you must be 25 years old to run for the House of Representatives, 30 to run for Senate and you have to be 35 to run for President or Vice President.

It's almost like the founding fathers didn't trust young people.

Cite: Constitution


Pumpkin Muffins (No sugar added)

I have been experimenting with sugar alternatives. I wanted to give honey a try in sweetening my baked goods. The less processed the better right? Well maybe. I got some help from a blog from vegetarian times that says "Use 3/4 cup honey per 1 cup sugar, and reduce the liquid used (e.g., milk, water) by 1/4 cup if using more than 1 cup honey in a recipe. Check baked goods 10 minutes before the end of cooking time; honey can make them brown faster." (That link has some other sugar alternative suggestions too, you should check it out!)

So that is what I tried here. These where really good, and my roommates eat them up quickly. They make great breakfast muffins or late night snacks.

1 Can of pumpkin
1/3 cup melted butter
1/2 cup honey
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1 tsp baking soda
 dash of salt
1 1/2 cups flour

Preheat oven to 350.  Mix pumpkin, butter, sugar, and egg together. Add nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, baking soda and salt to the mixture. Then gently stir in flour. Be careful not to over-mix. Pour mixture in to muffin tin filled with cupcake liners. Fill each muffin 3/4 full with batter. Bake for 30 minutes or until toothpick come out clean. 


Fact of the Week: November 25, 2013

 More food reaches landfills and incinerators than any other single material in municipal solid waste (MSW). In 2011 alone, more than 36 million tons of food waste was generated, with only four percent diverted from landfills and incinerators for composting. The best way to low this high amount of waste? Reduce your own food waste by buying less, and eating leftovers! Composting won't hurt either. 

Source US EPA 


Black Bean Brownies by Sugarboy (Gluten Free!)

 So my dear grandfather, probably the main reader of this blog, wanted to add a recipe. Since he is my biggest supporter, and I pretty much learned most of my baking skills from him, why not? 

If you are gluten free, or just want an alternative "healthy" brownie I REALLY recommend you try this. The cocoa real covers up the taste I promise! I tried it out, with sugar, on my roommates and they tasted no bean flavor to the brownies. As long as you have a blender, you can whip, or rather blend, these up in a jiff!  
These are Brownies are Sugarboy approved!
(photo by sugar boy) 
So here are Sugarboy's (yes that is my grandpa's name) Black Bean Brownies:  Hey, I found the most amazing recipe, (actually, it is a combination of several recipes I saw online).
 The cool thing is that they are made without any flour or sugar, (Grandpa's diet/Aunt Kim's diet), and it uses a whole can of black beans for healthy fiber.
Everything you'll need!



Everything you'll need!
1 can black beans, drained  and rinsed.
2 eggs. (or 4 egg whites)
3 Tbs. olive oil.
1 tsp. vanilla.
1/2 cup granulated Splenda, (or real sugar)
1/4 cup + 1 TBS. unsweetened cocoa.
1 tsp. baking powder.
pinch of salt.
(You will need a blender as well)
Photo by Sugarboy

Preheat the oven to 350 F

Blend beans, eggs, olive oil, and vanilla in a blender until smooth.

Mix sugar (or substitute), cocoa, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Then beat the two mixtures together.

 Put in greased 8x8 glass pan and Bake @350 for 20 minutes.


Fact of the Week: November 18, 2013

Out of the 32 million tons of plastic waste that was generated in the U.S. in 2011, only 8% (2.56 million tons) of it was recycled.


Fact of the Week: November 11, 2013

Sugar Pines, Pinus lambertiana, are the largest species in its genus (Pinus), which includes all pine trees. Their cones are also the longest cones of any pine tree, and may be more than 20 inches in length. The largest known sugar pine in the world is 209 feet tall and nearly 11.5 feet in diameter, and is near Dorrington, California. Trees may reach an age of 400 years. 



Pumpkin Apple Dutch Crunch Pie

I dearly love pumpkin pie! It is my all time favorite food! I once tried a pumpkin apple dutch crunch pie from my favorite pie lady in Chico, the Sweet Cottage! If you are ever in Chico in the summer on a Thursday afternoon, or a Saturday morning (year around), check her out at the farmers markets. She has the best teas and ice cream sandwiches as well as the best pies around! Anyway, I decided to try to replicate her pie for thanksgiving this year. For a number of years I have been in charge of the pumpkin pie for my families thanksgiving. I have tried lots of different ways to make it: from scratch, with whipped egg whites for a fluffier pie, but this one is my new favorite. Next time however I am going to add a crust because homemade crust is the best part of a pie! 

1 1/2 cups chopped peeled apples (2 small)
3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 egg
2 tablespoons flour (use Pamela's flour for Gluten Free) 
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Whipped cream, if desired

Heat oven to 350°F. Spread apples over bottom of 9-inch glass pie plate. Microwave uncovered on High 4 to 6 minutes or until apples are crisp-tender.

Meanwhile, in small bowl, toss 3/4 cup flour, the brown sugar, butter and 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice until crumbly. Set aside.

In medium bowl, beat remaining ingredients except whipped cream with wire whisk until smooth. Pour over apples. Sprinkle with flour mixture. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until golden brown and set. Cool 20 minutes. Serve warm with whipped cream.


Fact of the Week: November 5, 2013

On this day in 1872 Susan B. Anthony cast a vote in Rochester, New York. She was arrested and the trail that followed allowed her to further her cause for women suffrage. She was fined $100 for voting, which was illegal for women in New York at the time, which she vowed never to pay. She died in 1906, fourteen years before the ratification of the 19th amendment; however she never paid that fine.

Cite: http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/anthony/sbaaccount.html



These have become a go to for me for parties and pot lucks. They are so easy and so novel for most of my friends. I love to add some caramel drizzle and sea salt to the top! Give it a try and you'll love them! Much more than chocolateless brownie!! 

1/2 cup of butter, melted
1 cup of tightly packed dark brown sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon of baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 cup of all-purpose flour
1/3 cup of butterscotch chips (optional, but you can get creative here)

Preheat the oven to 350°F. 

Whisk together the melted butter and sugar in a bowl.

Add the egg and vanilla extract and whisk. Then add the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt, mix it all together. Add the butterscotch chips or other mix-ins.

Pour into the pan and spread evenly. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool. Cut into squares and serve.


Fact of the week: October 28, 2013

Tetrachromats have four cones to perceive color. Most people have three cones, red, blue and green. Tetrachromats have a yellow cone. Tetrachromats are females because cones are a sex linked trait.


Oatmeal Applesauce Cookies (no sugar or flour added)

This is pretty easy and doesn't take too much ingredients. Perfect for quick healthy fall cookies! They were inspired from quick oats cookies!

1 cup applesauce
1 cup quick oats
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/2 cup of chocolate chunks or chips (I just chopped up a Theo chocolate bar, but you really could any add ins you wanted like nuts, or coconut. The possibilities are endless!)

Preheat oven to 350 F.
Mix together oats and applesauce till well combined. Add in cinnamon and chocolate.
Scoop out small balls onto a cookie sheet. I used a tablespoon to measure them out. The more surface area this cookie has the more of a crunchy cookie texture it will have; less surface area the more moist and soft it will be.
Pop in the oven for 15 minutes or until the cookies have browned.
Enjoy these easy and healthy cookies with some tea; I paired mine with cinnamon tea and it was amazing!

See so quick and easy and no sugar or flour needed!


Fact of the Week: October 21, 2013

Semelparity (Suicidal reproduction) has evolved in only four genera of mammals. Scientists presume that male suicidal reproduction occurs in a species when scronized breeding occurs and the females are promiscuous. 



Fact of the Week: October 14, 2013

Matter that you might traditional think of, protons, neutrons, and electrons, only makes up about 5% of the total universe. 25% of the universe is made up of Dark Matter. The other 70% is made up of Dark Energy.
Read more in the cite below
Cite: http://science.nationalgeographic.com/science/space/dark-matter/


Caramel Apple Cider Cookies!

Here is the recipe for Caramel Apple Cider Cookies, which I found on Pinterest. These were a wonderful precursor to my trip to Apple Hill last fall. These cookies are best right out of the oven when the caramel is still hot, but we discovered the microwave can heat the center back up alright. However a toaster oven might work best! Warning these will go fast!


1 cup unsalted butter, nearly melted
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 (7.4 ounce) box Alpine Spiced Apple Cider Instant Original Drink Mix
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 (14 ounce) bag Kraft Caramels


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (190 degrees C).

Cream together butter, sugar, salt, and all 10 packets of apple cider mix until smooth and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla extract, then mix in the baking soda and baking powder. Add the flour and mix until just combined.

Scoop the dough into small quarter sized balls, scraping off the excess as you go up the bowl. Flatten the dough slightly in your hand and place a caramel in the center. Work the dough around the caramel sealing well. Place the cookies two inches apart on the sheets.

Bake for 12 to 14 minutes or until golden brown around the edges. After baking, carefully slide the parchment with the cookies onto the counter. Let cool until they are no longer soft but still slightly warm. Twist gently to remove, and cool the rest of the way upside down on a cooling rack.
If cookies get too cool before you twist them off, freeze the whole sheet for a few minutes and they'll come right off.

Best enjoyed warm and with some spiced apple cider.


Fact of the Week: October 7, 2013

Three scientists,  James Rothman and Randy Schekman, both from the US, and Thomas Sudhof, from Germany, have won the Nobel Prize for medicine or physiology after discovering how cells precisely transport material.

They found the way "vesicles" act like a fleet of ships transporting their goods to the exact destination.

Cellular 'shipping' wins Nobel Prize http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-24427951


Fact of the Week: September 30, 2013

Quaking Aspen, Populus tremuloides, grows in clone groups, all connected by their roots. In fall each clone changes color at the same time,  allowing people to identify a grouping.

Cite: The Laws Field Guide to the Sierra Nevada,  by John Muir Laws


Fact of the Week: September 22, 2013

September 16, 2012 holds the all time low in minimum Arctic sea ice  since the start of  satellite record, and reinforces the long-term downward trend in Arctic ice extent. The low was 1.32 million square miles (3.41 million square km) in arctic sea ice area. 



Fact of the Week: September 16, 2013

Lizards can break off their tails when threatened by a predator;  it then twitches causing a distraction and allowing the lizard to escape.  The lizard can grow back its tail with a cartilage rod instead of bone. Much of a lizards excess fat is stored in the tail, so a lizard who loses its tail may not be able to reproduce that year. 

Cite: The Laws Field Guide to the Sierra Nevada, by John Muir Laws


Gluten Free Chocolate Cupcake

So this is a pretty standard Chocolate cupcake recipe, however mine are gluten free. But I am letting you all in on a secret to make super moist chocolate cake that my mom taught me! 


3 eggs, separated
4 tbsp butter (1/2 stick)
2 cups Pamela's Baking & Pancake Mix
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
1/4 cup  chocolate pudding mix (make sure gluten free) 
1/4 cup cocoa powder

Preheat oven to 350°.

Separate eggs. Whip the whites until stiff.

In a separate mixing bowl, soften butter, add Pamela’s Mix and white sugar. Mix until the butter is creamed. Add 1/4 cup milk with the vanilla flavoring and almond flavoring, mix for 1 minute on medium. Add the remaining 1/4 cup milk with the egg yolks. Then add in cocoa powder, and pudding mix and beat till well combined. Fold in stiff egg whites.

Pour into cupcake tins lined with wrappers. Do not fill more than 2/3 full. Bake for 25 minutes. Do not open the oven door while baking. Cake is done when it springs back to the touch. 

Pour the cupcakes out and let them cool on a wire rack. Frost with whatever frosting you want. I always love to use cream cheese frosting. 



This a favorite at my house.  The orginal recipe was found the cookbook The Abundant Table which are recipes from the Bishop Ranch. But my roommates and I added peaches and use almond milk instead.

3/4 cup unsalted butter  (1/2 cup cake and 1/4 cup topping)
1 1/4 cups sugar (3/4 for cake and 1/2 cup for topping)
1 egg
2 1/2 cups flour  (2 cups for cake and 1/2 for topping)
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup almond milk
1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)
1 cup peaches
1/2 cinnamon

Preheat oven to  375 degrees fahrenheit
Cream butter and sugar together. Add in egg and mix well.
Shift flour, baking powder, and salt together. Then slowly add in the butter sugar mixture in. Then pour in the milk,  and mix till well combined. 
Butter or grease a pan (a 11 by 7 by 11 1/2 glass pan works best)
Pour blueberries and peaches on top.
For the topping mix the 1/2 cup sugar with 1/2 cupof flour and cinnamon.  Cut in the butter until the stick together in pea sized balls. Evenly spread over the furit layer. 
Bake for 1 hour or until the top springs back when pressed on and an inserted toothpick comes out clean. 


Fact of the Week: September 9, 2013

The combined average temperature  for July 2013 was the sixth hottest July on record (for the last 134 years)!  It was  0.61°C (1.10°F) above the 20th century average of 15.8°C (60.4°F) for July temperatures. 

Cite: NOAA


Fact of the Week: September 1, 2013

Today marks the 15th anniversary of the U.S. publication of Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone; which scholastic changed the name from the British version because philosopher has a different meaning in our culture. 

Well anyway happy anniversary of your introduction to our American culture Harry! I've enjoyed your time with us!


Farmers Market Pico De Gao

With the return of summer, farmers markets come back in full swing! I love fresh and local produce. I love eating season veggies and fruits. Here is one of my favorite summer recipes that is easy and yummy! Enjoy this while the season lasts! Lately I've been paring this dip with blue corn chips!

10 cherry tomatoes (or any kind of tomatoes you want, you just might use less)
3 or 4 green onions
3 tablespoons of fresh cilantro
1 lime
1/3 cup of cream cheese

Finely chop all the onions and tomatoes up. It works best if you make the tomatoes into mushy bite sized pieces. Dice the cilantro into very fine pieces. Mix the onions, tomatoes and cilantro together, taking care to add the juices in. Add some lime zest on top.

Line the bottom of a 5" diameter serving bowl with cream cheese. Pour the above mix on top of the cheese and flatten it out. Squeeze the lime juice on top of the dip.

Served best with corn chips and let your guests enjoy!


Fact of the Week: August 26, 2013

This week, on August 28th, is the 50th anniversary of the march on washington and Dr. Martin Luther Kings "I Have a Dream" speech. It is considered the largest human rights demonstration in U.S. history with 250,000 demonstrator present.
Cite: http://www.ourdocuments.gov/doc.php?flash=true&doc=96#


Fact of the Week: August 19, 2013

There are four types of volcanoes: Cinder Cone, Lava Dome, Composite, and Shield.  All four are present in Lassen National Park.



Fact of the Week: Aug 5, 2013

Polar bears do not have white hair, but instead have hollow, transparent hair. The thinner undercoat hairs are not hollow, but are colorless.
Learn more here


Fact of the Week: July 31, 2013

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows sold 8.3 million copies in the first 24 hours making it the fastest selling book in history!!

Happy Birthday J.K. Rowling!
and of course:



If you didn't know I'm huge Harry Potter NERD!  And I mean huge;  I was in the Harry Potter club in college,  played Quidditch, stood in line at midnight for the books and movies, and every year I celebrate J.K. Rowling and Harry's birthday!  So this week in honor of the chosen one's birthday I am sharing this Butterbeer recipe!  I won't claim that it tastes like the ones at the wizarding world of Harry Potter,  but I like this one a lot;  it tastes more like butterscotch. 

6 12 oz bottles of cream soda
3 tablespoons of imitation butter
1/2 pint heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup butterscotch chips

Whip the cream till the peaks can stand. Melt the butterscotch chips in a sauce pan over medium heat while constantly stirring.  Once this is a liquid mix pour it into the bowl with cream,  mix till well combined.

Mix a half tablespoon of the imitation butter into each soda bottle poured into a cup,  or pour all the soda into a bowl and gently mix all the butter in.

Put the whipped topping on top of the soda and serve immediately. 

You can then mix the whole thing up.

This drink is best enjoyed while eating Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans and watching HP, as illustrated below!

Fact of the Week: August 12, 2013

The  Hubble Telescope recently discovered the 14th moon of Neptune. 

Cite http://m.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-23318301

Homemade Sprinkles!

This very very easy to make. You most likely aready have the ingredients so save yourself a buck and make your own!

1/4 cup of sugar (or however much sprinkles you desire)
4 to 10 drops of food coloring (follow the boxes directions for color combos)

Preheat oven to 350 F.
Mix together sugar and food coloring.  Make sure to add one drop at a time and mix well. Once the color is even and the shade you want, lay the mixture out on a baking pan and flaten it out. It is best if the sugar is spread out very thinly. 
Bake for 10 min. Let cool.
You can then use it right away or store away for later use!

See wasn't that easy!