Momma Told Me: January 2018

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National #CarrotCakeDay- Carrot Cake Truffles Recipe

National Carrot Cake Day is February 3rd- Make these Carrot Cake Truffles and convert even the biggest chocolate cake fans to carrot!
Momma Told Me: Let them eat cake!

When polled, people worldwide agree that Carrot Cake is a favorite flavor- It ranks 3rd, behind 'Chocolate' and 'Vanilla,' a full 4 spots above Red Velvet and 6 above German Chocolate. But what, really, is the fascination with a cake chocked full of a vegetable? Zucchini Cake exists, but it's widely regarded much more as a bread or loaf, than a dessert. One might argue carrot cake is a favorite because people feel they are enjoying a 'healthier' treat- which is true in a sense. It's believed carrot cake was first make in medieval times during sugar shortages as carrots were found a suitable sweetener. But modern carrot cakes, at least the sort ordered at mass grocery retailers and main stream bakeries, are actually loaded with extra sugars- particularly the frosting.
Maybe it's the texture? You can hide a whole lot in a good carrot cake and have your guests be none-the wiser. In fact, ingredients such as raisins, coconuts, and shredded carrots help this cake keep it's wonderful moisture throughout many recipe variations. And, while I consider Carrot more of a Spice Cake and make mine on the low sugar end, I am constantly surprised by the number of people who clamor for a slice when I bring one of these cakes by. I have NEVER left a social event with a slice, or even some generous sized crumbs, of carrot cake on my serving dish- and I honestly can't say that about ANY other cake recipe, no matter how fancy.
Why? It's an easy cake to eat- it satisfies a sweet tooth craving without going over the top. As delicious as mud pie cakes and black raspberry truffle cakes are they are quite rich and only a small portion can be consumed before guilt and feelings of over indulgence kick in. I also prefer to serve my homemade frosting on the side- a great carrot cake doesn't need frosting at all, it is moist and perfectly sweet on it's own. Most importantly, your average carrot cake fan is NOT a huge sweet eater, and likely prefers to determine the amount of frosting they inhale themselves. This reminds me to try my hand at carrot cake cinnamon buns sometime, my frosting recipe would make a delicious icing!
But all of this is to say that today, February 3rd, is National Carrot Cake Day! I'm not sure why so many of these 'National Days' seem to be so off balance with the natural season of the topic. It would seem more fitting that this would fall in March, or more towards Spring at least- but the Groundhog has emerged from his hole, and I suspect the National Holiday Calendar is quite full- so I'll take the excuse to enjoy my favorite recipe in a while new twist.
So, today, I'm sharing Carrot Cake Truffles. They're more like carrot cake balls- but the word 'truffle' demands a bit of respect, so we'll go with that. The recipe is simple- you can take your favorite boxed carrot cake mix (for that I recommend Duncan Hines Supreme) and substitute it for my Carrot Cake Base- or prepare the recipe as it is. Essentially you're going to add a few extra texture and moistening ingredients to your usual carrot cake, bake it up, smash it into some fresh cream cheese frosting, roll it into balls, freeze, and dip in tempered chocolate. Hopefully your chocolate tempering goes better than mine- as this particular afternoon my chocolate didn't want to cooperate.
National Carrot Cake Day is February 3rd- Make these Carrot Cake Truffles and convert even the biggest chocolate cake fans to carrot!
I like to double my cake portion of this recipe because the 'truffles' are very rich in condensed form and not everyone who enjoys carrot cake wants such a sweet bite- besides, I made these yesterday with a full SHEET of cake, and I don't have a slice left to show for it. That's how big a deal carrot cake is in my circles! So, since we're on the topic of cake, why don't you dish what your favorite cake is!

What Daughter Says: Carrot Cake may not be 'better for you' but it's definitely a good enough excuse to enjoy a slice now and then!

National Carrot Cake Day is February 3rd- Make these Carrot Cake Truffles and convert even the biggest chocolate cake fans to carrot!
Carrot Cake Truffles
***Click here for printable Carrot Cake Truffles recipe

State Of The Woof: And Grocery Outlet Pettacular Event

Please Note: Momma Told Me does not endorse over-indulging, or un-safe feeding of pets. Any photos shown below are taken in complete human supervision and portioning is as advised by product packaging and/or personal vets. Always supervise your pets when treating and consult labels for portion control. In addition, we recommend you monitor your dog's online activity, as internet safety should be a top concern for connected canines.
With 2018 in full swing, it seems like just yesterday we were bringing out newest family member home, as opposed to an astonishing 6 months! I still remember dropping off our monthly donation at the shelter and spotting Gidget's new intake photo thinking to myself we'd never have a chance at such a tony, adorable, puppy.

Of course you all know the story by now- we went through some pretty strict vetting and brought Nora for supervised play dates, before the foster mother picked us over 20+ other potential homes. I wasn't quite prepared to bring a puppy home, since we hadn't been looking for a puppy- but she found us, and the rest is history, as they say!

The vet estimates Gidget at approximately 1 year of age, tipping the scales with an adult weight of 2.16lbs. Its hard to believe she's the younger of the 2 when her and Nora get together. Gidget is always quite elegant and lady-like, while Nora can't focus on anything for more than 30 seconds. It certainly makes photo-taking a challenge!
Since Nora is (one hyper, yet still an) "old lady" she prefers to chill on the couch solo most of the day, while Gidget is so tiny she prefers to be against human skin (or at least have a heartbeat to listen to). You could say she's been raised by the glow of a computer screen, and it shows! Just the other day she pointed out something of particular interest in my inbox- the Grocery Outlet weekly ad.

As it turns out, this week only, Grocery Outlet is having a massive Pettacular Event on the back of a 1 Million Dollar + pet food buy. Grocery Outlet used to be very regional, and some place we could only shop at when we visited Momma in Oregon, but has since opened 2 stores in our Southern California community in the past few months. Grocery Outlet is a family owned business that often buys large overstocks and more, then passes the savings on name brand items down to the consumer. These might be items with a graphical packaging error, flavors that just didn't sell as well in mainstream stores, over-production, items nearing best by dates, or more. Shopping Grocery Outlet really is an amazing treasure hunt; so much so we stop by at least twice a week!
I didn't need any convincing- we were low on puppy pads (essential during poor weather), so we packed Gidget up in her sling and took a trip the Grocery Outlet around the corner. I was happy to find Animal Planet pet beds, a giant bundle of Hartz puppy pads, Gorrrrilla chew toys, Greenies brand treats, and of course plenty of great food brands for all of our furry family members. We really scored some amazing deals- and even broke the New Year's diet with some 'turkey' Beggin' Strips from Purina.

Once Gidget was satisfied that we'd shopped 'her' aisle enough I let loose in the fresh product department, planned several meals for the upcoming week, and scored an incredible deal on Larabars in the NOSH (organic) section. We spent $83 in total and saved over $123, no coupons necessary!
I try to raise my dogs to be strong independent people, so I require them to partake in the unloading and unpacking of their goodies before allowing them to indulge. Gidget wanted to point out that she could turn the shopping bag into a home, and that the treats weighed more than her. Excuses.
Of course the begging is real, ya'll.

Like really, really, real.

One thing I've learned about having a tiny dog is that every emotion is amplified by their tiny features. When Gidget gets excited she rumbles. Her whole body vibrates as if she will imminently explode and she makes the silliest chirping noises. It's a complete 360 from Nora, who spins in rapid circles and runs back and forth like a bull in a China shop.

Of course I'm a pushover and begging almost always wins at home, in public, not so much- but I can be a softy when nobody's watching.
Where as Gidget has no shame demanding her new treats from the Grocery Outlet Pettacular shopping trip, Nora much prefers to help herself.

I can offer Nora a treat multiple times and have her turn her nose up, where as she will happily wander on over to the bag when I'm not looking and take one for herself.

Maybe I just don't know which treats in the bag are the tastiest?
Don't think that just because we have a new dog that Truffles, the cat, has been neglected-

If anything, she's still the easiest of our pets to care for, and I appreciate that.

Cats are great, independent, lovers who shower their humans with attention when appropriate and otherwise carry on with their own activities in the mean time. Every night when the 'girls' (Gidget and Nora) are tucked into their beds Truffles is sure to climb up into bed with me and cuddle.

Naturally we picked out some delicious cat treats at Grocery Outlet Pettacular event for her, as well.

So, tell me, how do your pets like to get involved with the household activities?

3 Ways To Make Your Morning Brighter in 2018

I am not a morning person.

Now that the new year is in full swing I've been taking a little time to reflect on how to improve my everyday activities. You know, the things you do every single day because you have to.

This includes swiping your phone's alarm right (not left!) and putting both feet on the ground beside your bed. Right foot, left foot, right foot, left foot- and you've begun your day.

If you're anything like me part of your brain is still playing your drams in the back of your mind, a world with no annoying alarm buzzers, kids who sleep in on the weekends, and traffic that parts when it sees your car coming.
With the holidays behind us it's time to put aside all that pampering and indulgence and get back to the nitty gritty. Whether you work a 9-5, run a small business, or have a household to run (for some it's all of the above) there's no arguing that how you start your day sets the tone for what comes next. Mornings are important; there's a reason 'they' say breakfast is the most important meal of the day!

In the spirit of starting the year off right, and every single day that lies ahead, I've put together 3 of my favorite ways to make your morning brighter.
#1. A full stomach.

Number one begins at your local Walmart- you're probably in there several times a week grabbing supplies for the school diorama project, picking up prescriptions, grabbing a last minute gift for that distant relative, everyday kinda things. You might even shop Walmart for your week's groceries, if you're organized enough to have some sort of a meal plan.

But have you seen the new Jimmy Dean Simple Scrambles®  in the breakfast cold case (refrigerated aisle) at Walmart?
These convenient single servings of breakfast bliss come in 3 tempting varieties; Jimmy Dean Meat Lovers Simple Scrambles®, Jimmy Dean Sausage Simple Scrambles®, and Jimmy Dean Bacon Simple Scrambles®. I found them on the shelf right next to the bacon! These breakfast solutions are kept refrigerated and include real eggs inside as well as 22/23g of protein so you can fuel your day right. They're also incredibly easy to prepare in the microwave, right in the container, in under 2 minutes- so you can grab and get on the go for those busy mornings!
Preparing new Jimmy Dean Simple Scrambles® is as easy as picking your favorite variety from the fridge, removing the lid and contents of the cup, and 2 simple microwave steps. First, pour the included 2 real eggs into your Jimmy Dean Simple Scrambles® cup and microwave on high for about 45 seconds (my microwave requires a little longer than the suggested time). Next, carefully remove the cup from the microwave and pour the packet of real cheese and meat into your egg concoction. Return the Jimmy Dean Simple Scrambles® back to the microwave for another 40-45 seconds, and allow it to sit for a minute before removing. Grab a fork and scramble it up- then enjoy!
With real eggs, sausage, cheddar cheese, and bacon the Jimmy Dean Meat Lover's Simple Scrambles® is my favorite- it's like having a full omelet in a cup- ready to take and enjoy anywhere. It's prefer for those mornings when I have to start my commute early- or those Saturdays I promise the girl's a morning trip to the dog park. Having a protein packed, delicious, easy to prepare hot breakfast to take on the go is a surefire way to set my morning off on the right track!
2. Change the view.

Before you start yelling at me telling me how it's negative 50 degrees and you can't even see past the snow drifts at your window, hear me out. I know we can't all live in Southern California where 50F is a frigid Winter's day.

Another great way to make your morning brighter is to incorporate a little sunshine.

Studies have proven that natural light is how our bodies most signal the beginning of a new day, and help get our systems primed to tackle the tasks of the day ahead. So, whether you quite literally dine on your front porch for breakfast, or merely open up the blinds by the kitchen nook- take a moment to let a little natural sunlight re-invigorate you.
This time of the year the sun rises quite early, as well as the rest of the Earth's natural creatures.

While you may not have sunny skies up above changes are there are other signs of a new day- including audible ones such as birds and wildlife outside your window. Take a moment to take a deep breath and stop and listen for these natural cues of a fresh day's beginning.

If sun is simply not an option, consider giving your bedroom an upgrade, check out these simple bedroom makeover tips to help jump start your day!
3. Unwind a little.

It may make little sense to start your day off with relaxation or fun when you just finished lying in bed for hours doing nothing, but taking just 10 minutes to do an activity that brings you joy is proven to help boost serotonin levels and get your blood pumping for the day ahead.

Even if there weren't a scientific reasoning- starting your day the way you'd expect to end it also helps take your mind of the stresses of the day ahead, and works to re-focus your energy towards a more positive space. If you can't manage this on work/week days then I highly suggest you find a routine you can fit in on those off days. We like to spend some time first thing in the morning playing with the pets- I like to think this morning unwind time benefits everyone!

So there you have my best tips for making your mornings brighter in 2018- they're not all ground-breaking, for sure; but they're all easy to implement. After all, the first tip is just plain delicious and Jimmy Dean Simple Scrambles® at Walmart should be on your shopping list regardless. You don't need to be seeking a brighter morning to know a delicious quick breakfast when you see one! As always, if you try any of these tips, please let me know how they've worked for you. Now, tell me, what's your best advice to start the morning right?

Vegan Samoa Cookies- Vegan Girl Scout Copycat Recipe

Make these Girl Scout Cookie favorites- Vegan style! Vegan Samoa Cookies Recipe
Momma Told Me: That's the way the cookie crumbles.

Last week was a dreary one here in my part of Southern California. I feel bad for complaining, partly because it's in the 70s and sunny outside now and, because a great portion of my friends and family were covered in over a foot of snow. You see, I love the rain, but it's those grey days in between I can't tolerate. They make for terrible photography days for me, and I honestly feel motivated to do little more than crawl back in bed with a book and read the afternoon away.
Make these Girl Scout Cookie favorites- Vegan style! Vegan Samoa Cookies Recipe
I digress, so there I was on day 3 of grey afternoons when I decided to dabble once again with Vegan baking. The week before the Girl Scouts had turned up at our bowling league peddling their wares and the entire alley was flooded with people eating straight out of the box with no regard for New Year's Resolutions. Not that I judge- I so sorely wished I was one of them, but my self control weighed out. Every year I buy at least 1 of every Girl scout cookie variety under the premise it's for a 'good cause' all the while hoping there will simply be a donation box I can contribute to next year. As it turns out you CAN easily donate to your local girl scout chapter ONLINE- so this year, I have! You can also use the new Digital Cookie platform to order cookies online and have them delivered to a family member or charity organization by mail or in person from a Girl Scout themself!
So there I was, mulling over the fact I was so clearly Girl Scout Cookie-less, on a dreary weekday, inspired to make something vegan when it hit me- Vegan Samoa Cookies. Somoas are the perfect cookie to Vegan-ize with a shortbread base, plenty of coconut and a chocolate drizzle that easily translates to dairy free. In fact, this recipe only has 9 ingredients, and anyone with shortbread experience can master these in not time.
Of course, if you've never made shortbread before, you may want to avoid making your first time with a Vegan formula. Shortbread is notoriously temperamental for over-baking/blackening on the bottom, and requires a bit of patience when making cutouts. In this case you can add a little extra Earth Balance (vegan butter) but the Coconut Flour will still tend to want to fight you unless the dough is kept perfectly chilled. In my case it also didn't help that I didn't have a small circle cookie cutter the right size for the center punch out- so I spent extra time trying to pry dough from my 'O' Bento cutter every other cookie.
When I served these I kept getting asked how I made a Vegan caramel- with the wide variety of Vegan items originally based off animal byproducts I always have to chuckle when I'm asked how I made something Vegan. You can literally make anything in Vegan imitation form. This caramel is actually made almost identical to dairy based caramel, but with Vegan butter substitute and Coconut Cashew milk instead. The color and consistency is near perfection- the only difference is that it seems to harden more over time, and should never be served from the refrigerator.
Make these Girl Scout Cookie favorites- Vegan style! Vegan Samoa Cookies Recipe
So, feel free to grab the recipe below and give it a try- you certainly won't regret it. I served these to otherwise 'ordinary' non-Vegan consumers at the alley last week and had multiple requests for the recipe. Just note not to bake them on foil (use parchment or silicone liners) or you will likely crisp the shortbread. Imagine how impressed your family and friends will be when you tell them you made your own Girl Scout imitations, and they're entirely animal byproduct free! Now, tell me, what Girl Scout cookie would you love to try in Vegan form the most? I just might share a recipe!

What Daughter Says: Shortbread may be a frustrating cookie to work with, but these Vegan Samoa Cookies are completely worth it!

Make these Girl Scout Cookie favorites- Vegan style! Vegan Samoa Cookies Recipe
Vegan Samoa Cookies
***Click here for printable Vegan Samoa Cookies Recipe