Simple City Life

Monday, December 15, 2014

Stay Connected This Winter. #SeasonedGreetings +Gluten Free Chipotle Chocolate Cake Recipe

This shop has been compensated by #CollectiveBias, Inc. and its advertiser. 
All opinions are mine alone.

'Tis the season to be jolly! Everyone is hustling and bustling to get ready for the holidays. It's a busy time of the year. So many sights to see and things to do. It's also a chilly time of year in the Midwest. When we aren't running around we are tucked in our warm houses. Neighbors that we saw daily a few months ago we see in passing as we dash for the car. I have been working hard to stay connected through the long winters with our friends and neighbors. Opening up the house for evening meals and treats is a perfect way to help pass along the long winter months. We enjoy hosting simple family dinners. The kids love to spread out a dinner picnic for friends and the adults enjoy talking and laughing together. It really does wonders for the soul. I am working on challenging myself to open my house more this winter. You don't always have to do a full dinner, dessert nights or morning coffee and snacks is also a great way to stay connected through the winter. Tomorrow, I am looking forward to heading over to a friends house for a morning of tea and dedicate flour-less chocolate cake.  Of course the cake and tea are a complete bonus, spending the morning chatting and laughing with friends is what keeps my spirit bright. 

So while you are going through your busy days, here are a few simple and great way to stay connected through the cold seasons. 

Family game night. Invite another family over and make a night of it. Set us a couple small tables and create age appropriate game stations. You can get creative and play round robin style! Set the timer for 3-5 mins, one the alarm goes off- rotate to the next game and pick up playing.

Chili Cook Off. Get your creative chefs cap on and whip up and batch of wicked good chili. Invite your friends to do the same and have them over for a night of taste testing. Create judging sheets and send everyone home with a award and swap left overs. 

Popcorn and Movie Night with friends. Everyone loves a movie night, why not host one at your house? Invite family friends to come with kids in jammies for a fun movie. Create a big cozy nest for all the kids and let them snuggle in for the evening. Parents can enjoy the time with other adults and some yummy warm winter beverages, aka hot mulled wine! 

Hot Chocolate Party. Kids love hot chocolate and if we are honest so do adults! Let the kids add marshmallows, sprinkles, candy cane or caramels. Pick up some Bailey's for the adults and have a great evening of sugar and craziness! Throw on some fun tunes and let the kids dance the night away! 

Mom's Brunch. Gather your friends and enjoy a delicious brunch sans kids. Whip up a quick quiche, throw a pot of coffee on and relax with your company. Enjoy your breather before you have claim those little ones from school. 
All of these ideas are simple and can be done without spending much at all. There is nothing better than spending time with friends and building memories for your kids. Having some taste treats is a huge added bonus! This winter we are spicing things up with some of Tabasco's new sauces. Scott is such a Tabasco fanatic, that he is more than happy to oblige. I had never even had Tabasco until I married him. I had no idea what I was missing out on. We add Tabasco to several of our favorite holiday party recipes (and it makes a perfect stocking stuffer). It just kicks things up a bit and adds so much flavor. You can find all of your favorite Tabasco products, like the Chipotle Tabasco sauce at your local grocer near the ketchup! Check out Tabasco's other fabulous and delicious party food tips to spice up your next get together. 

I spent this morning making this delicious cake to bring to my friends house tomorrow. It is rich, sweet and has a little kick to it. It is super simple and gluten free! Huge bonus there. I am looking forward to sharing this with my friends tomorrow. Of course I made some extra for tasting and if I do say so, it is beyond delicious! The mixture of the dark chocolate and the rich boldness of the Chipotle sauce, creates a taste that is fantastic for all occasions. 


Ingredients: 

Cake
2 sticks unsalted butter, plus extra for pan 
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped 
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder 
3 tbs. Tabasco Chipotle Sauce 
1/4 teaspoon salt 
6 large eggs
1 cup sugar 

Topping
1 cup heavy cream 
1 tsp. vanilla
2 tbs. confectioners' sugar 
1 tsp. ground cinnamon 


Let's Get Started: 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. 
 Lightly butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper and butter the paper. Set aside. 

On low heat, melt the chocolate, cocoa powder, Tabasco Chipotle sauce, salt and butter together. In a separate bowl whisk together the eggs and sugar. Once your chocolate mixture is melted thoroughly, gently fold into the egg/sugar mixture until well blended.

Gently pour into the prepared pan and bake until the edges are set but the center is still moist and a few crumbs stick to a tester, about 45-50 minutes. 
Remove from the oven and cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. Run a thin, sharp knife around the edge of the cake. Remove the pan sides and gently lift away the cake. Invert onto a cake plate, remove the bottom and peel away the parchment.  Let stand in fridge, remove before serving. 

In a bowl, beat the cream, and vanilla in an electric mixer until frothy. Add the confectioners' sugar and cinnamon and continue to beat until the cream holds soft peaks. Serve with a dollop of whipped  and a delicious cup of your favorite eggnog. :)  

Enjoy and I wish you many #SeasonedGreetings! 
Courtney

Monday, December 8, 2014

{Music Monday}- Lingering from Karla Adolphe #Review and #Giveaway #ChristmasMusic


My tree is finally finished and the mantel is decked out with greenery and twinkle lights, Christmas has arrived! I love this season so much and how it makes my little family slow down a little and spend quality time with each other while reflecting the beauty of what Christmas is all about.  


“Lingering” is the perfect word to sum up the spirit of Advent and the new Christmas EP from Canadian Singer/Songwriter Karla Adolphe.  If you have never heard Karla’s alluring sound you are missing out. The first time I ever heard her sing I was confident this girl was part of my southern clan. Her voice is full and lovely and her folk guitar playing makes you want to be on a front porch overlooking the mountains with some of your closet’s friends listening to her play.  I came across  Karla when she was  featured on Enter the Worship Circle's Fourth Circle and Chair and Mic Vol 3 albums. And I was over the moon when in September 2011 the song "You Are Mine" was licensed to the CW's Hart of Dixie in the pilot episode.  This girl quickly become one of my favorites to listen to and I have the sweet honor of even calling her a friend!

Anytime she has anything  new released I am chomping at the bits to get the album in my possession and this new Christmas EP, Lingering  is no exception.  When I heard the news in November she was releasing the EP I was literally counting down the days till it was available for download on December 1st.  I am not a fan of listening to Christmas music before December but I knew I would want to listen to Lingering all year long. So when I received the email last Monday I put everything on hold and downloaded the album as fast I could.  I sat at my kitchen table with Alamea and we both just soaked in the sobering sacred moment of Christmas!  Her own description of the album sums it up perfectly, “The songs express themes of pilgrimage, longing, hope, revelation, visitation and prophecy.  I hope in them you find rest; linger with me and thank you for joining me on this journey.”  Three out of the five songs are my absolute favorite Christmas carols including the ever so lovely O Come O come Emmanuel, but I have to say my favorite song on the album is Do You Hear What I Hear.  Karla has taken a classic and intertwined her very essence into the traditional song.  Her voice alone carry’s the beauty of the tender moment with few sprinkles of guitar and piano accompanying the bridled strength of her voice. My second favorite on the album is the original song she has written, All Your Glory. She had me singing along within the second run through of the chorus and I have been humming the melodious chorus all week!

Okay so now that I have raved about this album and I am insistent that it should be on your Christmas Play list, I know you are probably wondering how to get it…right? You need to go download it straight from her website for ONLY $6.00! She is also letting us giveaway a download to two of our readers including an additional download for each winner to give away as a gift!! YAY! So all you need to do is enter below and the winner’s will be chosen next Monday the 14th and the contest is open to US and Canada! And don't forget to tweet every day!  While you are on her website be sure to read more about Karla and check out her other albums.

Cheers,

Abbie
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Thursday, November 6, 2014

A perfect fall treat: Butternut Pudding Parfaits

Fall is an amazing time of year. The beauty that surrounds us overwhelmingly breathtaking. It is warm and embraces you. I tend to mimic this behavior inside my home as well. I rearrange the furniture to allow a cozier feel. Candle and incense are scattered about. I tend to add more colors into the house adding depth and richness to the space. I even start to enjoy and let my creative juices flow in my kitchen. Warm comfort foods are always on the menu. I even start to add a dessert here and there for the kids to enjoy. This recipe is brand new and full of fresh fall flavors, sweet creamy yogurt topped with a pop of color and flavor. 
  • Butternut Pudding Parfaits: 

  • 1/2 cup organic cane sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 pinch of salt (optional)
  • 2 tablespoon Tapioca Starch 
  • 1 1/2  cup Silk original Almond Milk, reserve 1T. 
  • 1/2  cup butternut squash, cooked and drained 
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 32 oz Vanilla Whole Milk Stonyfield Yogurt (or 5-6 6oz Vanilla O'Soy to be dairy free) 
  • seeds from one pomegranate
Cut your squash in half lengthwise and remove seeds. Place on shallow baking dish upside down with a 1/4 inch of water. Cook squash in oven at 350 for 40 mins or until tender. Once cooked, in a medium bowl, mash up your cooked squash and wring it out to remove excess water. A flour sack towel works great for this, put the cooked squash in the towel after it cools a bit and gently wring it out over the sink. You will be left with a nice ball of butternut squash. 


























In a medium saucepan place the squash, sugar, eggs, salt, milk (minus 1T) , vanilla and honey. Gently mash ingredients together over medium heat on the stovetop. I love this new tool from Dreamfarm to gently mix and mash these ingredients.  In a small bowl, slowly add the 1T milk to the tapioca starch, mix well until blended. I find that mixing with my finger is best so that I know it is completely smooth. Stir starch blend into the saucepan and continue to cook for 10-15 minutes until the mixture begins to thicken. Continue cooking until desired consistency. Remove from heat and let cool. Store in refrigerator until ready to serve.





























To serve, start with a layer of yogurt, add a layer of pudding and repeat. Top with a small handful of pomegranate seed and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Serves 4 in a 8oz jelly jar. Total cook and prep time: 1 hour.


























If you decide to make this delicious treat, please let me know how it turned out.
Enjoy this month of Thanksgiving. Remember the small things and give thanks for them daily,

~Courtney

I am honored to be a member of the Stonyfield Clean Plate Club. I received product or coupons for writing this post, but all opinions are my own.