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Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Of all the horrors to bestow on Halloween

My worst fear is being left home with a two year old while taking a work call.  Today it happened, and it lasted for an hour!  There was a work emergency, these things cannot be planned and they cannot be deterred.  So call was had while my rowdy two year made every effort to distract and raise my blood pressure to previously unseen levels.  Here are some of the creative things she found toentertain herself with while I desperately tried to stay on topic:

- watched My Little Pony until we lost Netflix connection
- emptied an entire bin of toys at my feet
- emptied an entire bag of safety pins into my lap
- watched PJ Masks until we lost Netflix connection
- emptied an entire packet of tissues while loudly yelling "ACHU ACHU" through the loud speaker
- demanded candy from my desk, I gave in, it only made her come back for more
- colored on one page of my notebook
- demanded cuddle and then attempted to bang on my computer
- poked at the dog in his cage and made him whine
- demanded more candy
- ran away with candy
- came back and demanded a show, I put PJ Masks on again
- babbled excessively to take part in the meeting

At one point I thought I heard the front door open and frantically texted husband to come get her but he was just leaving the dentist office.  He got home 15 minutes later and immediately came downstairs to claim our youngest.  I was never happier to see him in my life!  After that my brain began to function, then the meeting ended 15 minutes later.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Purple Sweet Potato Bread

I've tried this twice and failed.  Failed to get a good purple color like my awesome muffins and scones.  Something must be happening to the mix during the baking process because it starts out like this:

Then after baking it looks like this:

Kinda green in the middle, slightly purple on top.  I won't share the recipe, it wasn't outstanding.  Next year I'll try again as I've nearly run out of Purple sweet potatoes and the kids won't stop asking for more purple scones.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Purple Sweet Potato Smoothie Recipe

I just love a pretty smoothie!  Until now, the only purple smoothie I've had is Blueberry, but the little bits get stuck in my teeth which can be unsightly when running out the door to a meeting, so, I created this beauty.

Basically I've simply added Purple Sweet Potato puree to my favorite Vanilla Smoothie recipe, it makes a great base for a variety of featured ingredients.

Purple Sweet Potato Smoothie Recipe

  • 1 cup 2% milk 
  • 1 tablespoon Vanilla Whey Protein powder
  • 1 tablespoon Nesquik Vanilla powder (you can substitute French Vanilla Creamer)
  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • 4oz purple sweet potato puree, see this link for calories 
  • 6 ice cubes
Blend on high until there are no chunks.  

My thoughts on the vanilla part - I've tried this without the Nesquik Vanilla powder but the taste of vanilla is not as strong and it's too plain.  I've never tried using Vanilla extract as that seems like it would be too strong but I guess that might be an alternative to buying a $7.80 Nesquik powder from Ebay that has more sugar content.  It was $4.00 when I first bought it but for some reason it's doubled in price.  I found a similar vanilla smoothie base at Wegmans but the nearest is in Frederick so I won't be getting that again.  

My thoughts on protein powder - it's high in calories, one scoop is 170 calories and it overpowers the taste of everything.  I use 10 grams, or 1 tablespoon if you don't have a scale.  This is 56.6 calories with about 5 grams of protein.

The milk adds 8 grams of protein and apparently there are 2 grams in 4 oz of purple sweet potato so all together that makes 15.  Some experts say you need at least 30 grams post workout so if it's important to you then just add more protein powder.  

I think overall, smoothies just need a little experimentation to get the taste right for your individual  preference, see this as more of a list of suggested ingredients and feel free to adjust as needed.  

Friday, October 20, 2017

Purple Sweet Potato Scone Recipe

Personally I feel that fall has been hijacked by pumpkin spice everything for too long!  I love pumpkin but I've decided to move it to November.  Apples are our September thing (cider, homemade applesauce, etc) and October is now known for Purple Sweet Potatoes and various squash like Acorn and Butternut.  I like having theme months for foods.

The inspiration for this recipe was simple - I wanted a purple scone!  After making the earlier muffins and realizing how mild the flavor is, I decided to simply add a scoop to my favorite white chocolate scone recipe.

Full disclosure, I got the base recipe from a church function and I have no idea as to the origin.  I've changed the instructions as my understanding of recipe plagiarism is the list of ingredients cannot be copy righted but the instructions combined with how-to photos can be.  Henceforth these instructions are all my get-r-done fast style. 

Purple Sweet Potato Scone Recipe

  • 3 cups self-rising flour
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup non-salted butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • 6 oz purple sweet potato puree
Calories - 179 per scone, makes 18

Use a food processor to chop the white chocolate chips into tiny bits and then pour these into a small bowl.  Next, put one cup of flour into the same food processor with butter and pulse until combined.  I then move the flour/butter mixture into a Kitchen Aid mixer and add remaining dry ingredients.  

Mix egg and buttermilk in a small container and combine with the purple sweet potato.

Add all ingredients together and mix on high until well blended.  It will be very thick, you may need to dig the mixture off the whip and then continue mixing to get everything blended, a little more buttermilk might be needed to get everything combined.  It can't be too wet or it will be too sticky to roll so proceed with caution if you think more buttermilk is needed.

On a floured surface, roll the dough 3/4" - 1" thick.  I use a 2" circle cutter to make my scones, you could also go the traditional triangle route if that is your preference.  I continue rolling until all dough is used up, there is no such thing as wasted dough in this house.  The last scone is usually hand balled and flattened into a scone patty, much like you would make a hamburger.

Place the cut scones onto a cookie sheet and bake for 14 minutes at 325.  

I am not a fussy baker, I like things quick and easy as most of my baking is done while fielding requests from 4 kids!  Scone recipes like to say let the dough rest, turn scones in oven after 7 minutes, etc.  I've tried following these steps but to me the taste is the same as when I follow this quick method so this is my no fuss approach.

These scones were very well received.  The kids scarfed them down in 2 days flat.  I kinda miss them already!  Good thing I've got more purple sweet potatoes to bake!

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Purple Sweet Potato Muffin Recipe

I decided to make muffins for my very first Purple Sweet Potato recipe, you'd think maybe someone might have already done this and they have, Pinterest is full of advice and apparently these are popular with Paleo and Vegan diets but I'm not on these diets.  I like putting milk and flour into my muffins so I decided to make my own recipe.  This one is roughly based on a sweet potato muffin recipe that I favor with a few adjustments to the spices.  I've settled on Apple Pie Spice mix as the background spice.  I feel like it brings out the flavors really well.

The first step is bake the potatoes and then puree the baked potato.  I went to this very indepth helpful website for instruction as apparently these are not as simple as regular orange sweet potatoes to bake.   I like how this site offered many details about the nutritional value.  If that is too much information to take in, then simply bake them for 1.5 hours at 350.  They do take longer than regular sweet potatoes.  Once baking is finished and they have cooled, remove peels and puree in a food processor. 

Purple Sweet Potato Muffins
  • 7 oz Purple Sweet Potato puree (if you do not have a scale 1 cup will work), if you don't have time to puree in a food processer then smash with a fork
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon apple pie spice (see below)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup oil (if you do not want to add oil then double the milk, I've done it both ways and it works out fine)
Apple Pie Spice - this is more than what this recipe will need, save for later, this is a good blend of spices that works with multiple recipes.  
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoon Cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon Nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon Allspice
Place all dry ingredients in large mixer along with the purple sweet potato and mix for 1-2 minutes until well blended.  Place wet ingredients in smaller bowl and once combined, add to the dry ingredients.  Mix until completely blended and beautifully purple.

Prepare muffin pans.  I use an ice cream scoop to measure regular muffins and a cookie scoop for mini muffins.  

Bake 20 minutes for regular size and 12-13 minutes for mini size.

This recipe made 4 regular muffins and 20 mini muffins, or 9-10 regular muffins.

The muffin is not sweet, it's spongy and you can taste the mild flavor really well because there are no spices added.  I think it would be a nice addition to dinner since it's not sweet.

These muffins were delicious right out of the oven, we had them plain in the morning and with icing in the afternoon.

Icing Recipe
  • 4 oz cream cheese room temperature
  • 4 oz butter non salted room temperature
  • 4 oz purple sweet potato puree (if not pureed then it will have small chunks)
  • 8 oz powered sugar

Blend until smooth.

At first you might be thinking, this purple color can't be real, surely they added some food color or increased the photo saturation.  I'm here to say the color is really that intense!

We could not taste the flavor of the purple sweet potato in the icing.  The color is so pretty that I plan to freeze 4oz cubes and use later for parties and special events.

updated 10/21/20

Jury Duty - Part 1

I've received my very first jury summons, and thankfully it's local.  Quite a few people have told me stories of getting summoned to Baltimore for a grand jury summons and that would be quite an ordeal considering it's 1.5 hours away!

I'm excited to participate for these reasons:

1.  It's a break from work, which has been taxing for many reasons lately.
2.  I like seeing and doing new things.
3.  I get to dress up for court!  Working from home tends to take away the pleasure of really getting oneself presentable to the world.  Sure I'll dress nice enough at home, but putting actual thought into a nicely coordinated outfit is fun to do!
4.  I get to go downtown for jury duty, I've always wanted to get to know that area better.
5.  I get to play Pokemon Go on the 3 block walk to the court house.

So far my experience has been this:

Day 1 - orientation from 8:45 - 10:07
Day 2 - canceled the night before
Day 3 - scheduled at 9:15 and the judge let everyone go at 10:10 because the case was settled without need for a jury and there were no more cases that day

So far it hasn't been the huge inconvenience that everyone makes it sound like it will be.  I hope I actually get picked for something!  Until then, I've got Seabiscuit to keep me company.

Note to self, next time you see a chatty woman, sit elsewhere.  She will keep talking and talking and make it very hard to read.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Introducing Bitzer!

We got a new puppy!  He's so little, only 8 weeks old.  The kids are in love.  He's a Jack Russel and we've named him Bitzer. 

Saturday, October 14, 2017


Our oldest, Charlotte, has attended art classes at the Washington County Art Musuem for several years.  Last year she got tired of taking art classes, I think she was feeling shy and wasn't connecting with the other kids.  This year Sam is old enough so I put them in together and they've been having the best time.  Here are their first projects:

Charlotte's Fire Breathing Unicorn Elephant

Sam's Unicorn Spider with a Shell

Friday, October 13, 2017

Homegrown Purple Sweet Potatos

I fell in love with Purple Sweet Potatoes in China.  They are usually included in the vegetable tempera at Japanese restaurants in China and when I came home from my last trip in March, I told my husband that I'd like to try growing these.  We had to wait a few weeks for them to be available, the company we ordered from online won't ship the slips until it's time to plant them because they can die if not planted immediately.  From the research I've done, they really prefer very warm weather, South America type, so we planted them in May.

We dug them up in October, it's been a warm fall and only now are we starting to get 40's at night.  Here are photos of the first ones out of the ground:

The purple goes all the way through!  Even the vines are purple, so it's easy to tell them apart from the orange sweet potatoes.

I'm so happy with these!!  They are impossible to find in Hagerstown, we could probably find them in Frederick or Colombia but it's way more exciting to grow them ourselves.  I literally woke up dreaming of recipes for these darlings the other day.  Can't wait to get started!!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Just Sam

** Post Dated **


My oldest had her front teeth completely in before her front baby teeth came out so we never got the two front teeth gap photos.  Sam has achieved the front row gap milestone!  Now we can sing "All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth" for two months!