Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Rolled Fondant Birthday Cake by Shannon

My youngest daughter Shannon, age 11 was undaunted in her quest to make a rolled fondant Birthday cake for my oldest daughters 20th Birthday party this month!  As you can was a terrific success!

However, I mustn't let you think that I helped Shannon make the fondant from scratch and that we spent hours in the kitchen making, rolling and kneading, to create the perfect rolled fondant birthday cake.   I confess, I totally chickened out!! Baking is not my forte but I couldn't let my poor baking skills keep my daughter from her quest so we used pre-made fondant.

I'm not much for cooking with prepared foods but this seemed the best idea given my unsurpassed lack of baking acumen.  The fear of making fondant akin to tar paper or silly putty gave me a strong desire to find another alternative. I was pleased to find that Michael's hobby store, makes a pre-rolled marshmallow fondant in several sizes and colors.  I was even more surprised to find that it didn't taste horrible.

Shannon decided to use Tanya's favorite cake mix, Betty Crocker White, for the base and her own recipe for royal lemon icing, between the two layers.  Making the decorations was much like playing with play dough.  We both had fun cutting out the shapes for the flowers and other decorations.

Shannon rolled the fondant large enough to cover the cake and then made petals for her flower, dots and strips with the colored fondant. The fondant was very easy to use.   The garlic press was the favorite tool to create Tanya's dark hair. The fondant rolled right out of the press like it was made for the job!  Shannon's rendition of Tanya 's face looked remarkably similar..I think it was the hair!

I would change a few things the next time Shannon makes a rolled fondant cake.  The box cake mix just didn't stand up to the weight of the fondant.  A homemade cake with a denser texture would be a better choice.  Maybe the next time I might just try to make the fondant from scratch..*shiver*! Well, maybe not!

Shannon, Tanya, Chris
Tanya's 20th B-Day
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Monday, September 27, 2010

Lovely Blog Award


Thank you Ms enPlace for honoring me with this lovely award!  I'm so excited to "pay it forward" with 15 of my personal favorite blogs.
Here are the rules of the award:

1. Accept the award. Post it on your blog with the name of the person who has granted the award and his or her blog link.

2. Pay it forward to 15 other bloggers that you have newly discovered.

3. Contact those blog owners and let them know they've been chosen.

Here are some blogs I've recently discovered:

Ms enPlace

Eat Drink Wash Up

All Our Fingers In The Pie

Anecdotes and Apples

Mexican American Border Cooking

Comfortable Outdoor Travel

Crystals Cozy Kitchen

Dolci a go go

kitchen flavours


Living in the kitchen with puppies

My Delicious Blog

My Year on the Grill

Pams Midwest Kitchen Korner

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Sunday, September 26, 2010

Ode To Fall

Softly rustle the aspen leaves,
Gentle and pure,

Carried by the wind 
To my senses fill,
The smells of Fall through the air 

Brilliant yellow, gold and green
Suns warmth, shadows infused,
Stillness resounds deeply to the soul

The crunch of seedum and pine cone sound, along the mountain floor, the damp dusk fragrance of Falls odor make

Eyes of aspen watch my way
Pass the wonder of Autumns change
to a place where only creatures tread

Ending in the beauty of natures
finest show

And ushers in the days of cold 

I love the Fall most of all!! 

Ode to Fall by Rebecka Evans

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Monday, September 20, 2010

Culinary Smackdown "Battle Chile" October 2010

It's going to be one HOT... October Culinary
Smackdown challenge!! 

You could be the next Culinary Smackdown Winner of "Battle Chile"!

Your challenge, should you decided to accept it.... make an appetizer, entree or dessert  using one or any combination of your favorite Chile(s).  Sweet or savory dishes with roasted green, stuffed, habanero, pabalano, jalapeno...what ever you choose, the skies the limit! 

You have until October 29th to post your entries here and I'll announce the winner October 31!   

Please post a comment on your blog about the October Smackdown challenge and remember to post a link back to my site! If you use Twitter, please Tweet the challenge.

There is no need to invent a new recipe if you already have a gem you'd like to share. 

I'm looking forward to all of your HOT recipes

Post your recipe and a photo to the linky below. 

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Sunday, September 19, 2010

I'm the Winner....Culinary Smackdown Battle Chocolate

What a wonderful honor to be named the September Culinary Smackdown champion of "Battle Chocolate 2010"!!  I never imagined I would  win the challenge going up against so many seasoned food blogger's and great chefs!

I first learned of the Smackdown challenge while  reading one of my favorite blogs by girlichef.  Her recipe for the August challenge "Sandwich" was  Tortas con Chile Colorado,   a beautiful sandwich and named after one of my favorite places in the world, Colorado!  

Excited to learn more about the Smackdown Challenge, I found myself following the link to the host of the September challenge, krakilette.  Anette, the author of krakilette  was the host of this months battle and was given the honor of hosting, for winning the previous challenge with her   Twinkle Sandwich.  You can see her entry and all the other amazing sandwich entries at ChezWhat? another one of my favorite food bloggers.

I won this months Battle Chocolate with my recipe for   Chocolate Tamales with Ancho Chili Fudge Sauce, and as the winner of this months challenge I have the honor of hosting the October Culinary Smackdown. 

What will I choose for the October challenge?  It's such a difficult decision given so many wonderful food choices. 

I'm a spicy food lover so I think the October Culinary  Smackdown will  be...  

"Battle Chile"  

Your challenge, should you decided to accept it.... make an appetizer, entree or dessert  using one or any combination of your favorite Chile(s).  Sweet or savory dishes with roasted green, stuffed, habanero, pabalano, jalapeno...what ever you choose, the skies the limit!  You have until October 29th to post your entries and I'll announce the winner October 31!   

I'm looking forward to all of your HOT recipes!!
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Wednesday, September 15, 2010


I remember fighting with my brothers over who would get the first hard boiled pickled egg my mother tucked into each delicious jar of her pickled beets. 

Sweet savory spices would fill our nostrils as she popped open the first jar of the season.  Inside awaited the most beautiful purple beets and a prized purple, pickle egg!  Thanks to moms calm demeanor, our fighting would end as she placed a thin slice of the egg atop our beets to accompany our dinner. 

What a joy it was to see the the brightly colored purple egg, paired with is bright yellow center waiting for us to devour its sweet and chewy purple outer edge.  The moment of perfection, was reaching the creamy yellow center filled with the beets spicy juices. 

The amazing transformation of a simple root vegetable and a plain old egg turned into pure artistry! 

Please visit my friends at Hearth and Soul Blog Hop to see other great recipes and food blogs.

Pickled Beets

1 gallon beets, tops removed leave root

In a large stock pot add enough water to cover beets and 1 tablespoon salt, cook until skins turn dark and the flesh of the beets are tender, drain, peel and slice.

Return to stock pot

2 quarts sliced beets
5 cups sugar
1 quart apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1/2 teaspoon pickling spice
1/4 teaspoon whole cloves
1 teaspoon salt

Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook 30 minutes, do not over cook or beets will become tough.

5-6 hard boiled eggs peeled

using hot prepared canning jars, place slices of beets on the bottom and around the jar leaving space in the center to add one hard boiled egg.  Place egg in center then continue adding beets slices until jar is full leaving 1/4 head space. 

Pour hot liquid over beets leaving 1/4 head space.  Cover with bands and lids, and process in a hot water bath for 15 minutes.  Place jars on a clean towel and cool.  Pickle Beets can be stored or used immediately. 

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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A Moderate Life September Giveaway Divine Living Recipe e-Book

A Moderate Life September Giveaway, Divine Living Recipe e-Book by Lidia Bastianich. 

Hosted by Hearth and Soul Blog Hop and,  this months giveaway is spectacular.  One of my most favorite chef's, Lidia Bastianich will be featured and her cook book "Divine Living" will be given away to one lucky winner!  Take a trip over to the Hop and check out this great giveaway! Print Friendly and PDF

Monday, September 13, 2010

Rainbows and Sunshine...I reached my big 30 today!!!

A Big Thanks to Becky Higgins, for being my 30th blog follower!!!!

I'm so excited and truly honored to have reached my thirtieth blogger today.  It may sound silly to some but it's a huge milestone for me! 

I want to thank each and everyone of you for your support, comments and suggestions over the past few months!  Food blogging is an epic journey and without each of you, I would just be a page full of pictures and useless phrases floating around in cyberspace! 

I'm really not sure where this path will lead, but for now I'm content with the knowledge that I'm part of something spactacular!  Die hard food enthusiates united in a social network of millions of people, sharing their love of what nourishes us all.....FOOD!!

Like the promise of a rainbow....I am blessed♥ Print Friendly and PDF

Friday, September 10, 2010

Palm Leaf Plates Give Away & Review

I just recently had the opportunity to try out a wonderful new product with the help of my friend, Angela at Marx Foods and the Foodie Blogroll. In conjunction with Marx Foods the Foodie Blogroll Team, blogroll members were offered a chance to try out these beautiful eco-friendly, disposable plates, made from Palm Leaf's, at no cost! Getting free stuff is especially nice when it has to do with my favorite stuff for my kitchen!

I've had previous experience with a similar product made from bamboo, when I was catering for a gourmet eatery in Florida. We used the plates for special events and beach wedding receptions as a beautiful alternative to paper or plastic plates. Brides and their families were pleased to have a reasonably priced alternative to renting china service. Of course, we loved the idea because our event clean up was a cinch!

Marx Foods describes these plates as great for entertaining. Elegant and durable, disposable party plates that are an eco-friendly alternative to conventional disposable plates. These biodegradable plates are a natural and renewable resource. Naturally discarded sheaths of the leaves of the Adaka palm tree are collected from the forest floor. No trees are cut down. The plates and the disposable cutlery are even compostable!

What set the Palm leaf plates apart from the bamboo version I used in the past, was the handsome and harmonious nature of individual leaf designs and their overall organic charm.  Marx Foods also offers Birch wood disposable forks, knives and spoons to accompany these beautiful plates!! The plates are also very versatile, as you can dress them up or down depending on your special event or occasion. The natural elegance of these plates would make any table look stunning!

I love the idea of the eco-friendly alternative and the natural beauty of these plates but I did encounter a few drawbacks...
The beauty of these plates made it difficult for me to toss them out! My mind kept telling me that they are meant to be disposable but their beauty made me winch when I put them in the trash! I just kept telling myself that I was helping the environment and shut my eyes as the lid to the trash was closing.

Palm Leaf plates are more expensive than the eco-friendly paper versions found in super markets and stores, so that too added to my discomfort when putting them in the trash.  Unfortunately, the plates can only be used once as they are porous and retain food particles.  They also loose their shape after washing.

Don't get me wrong...the plates are durable and stand up to just about any type of food, they even last long enough to reuse for a second helping if so desired!
Other good news, is that it's possible to make use of bowls and plates that are used to hold dry ingredients;  wipe out with a damp cloth and their ready for your next gathering.

So why choose these plates over the cheaper versions? 

They are drop dead gorgeous, affordable for weddings and large gatherings as well as disposable. The user can also rest in the knowledge that they are adding in the health and well being of our planet while still maintaining a delightful setting for their special event. 

For more information and a list of designs visit

Thank you Angela, Marx Foods and the Foodie Blogroll Team! 

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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Chocolate Tamales with Ancho Chile Fudge Sauce

Decedent, rich and filled with spicy flavor, these Chocolate Tamales are to die for!

This delicious dessert has a Mexican flair, filled with almonds, ancho chile powder and cocoa then drizzled with Ancho Fudge Sauce…so rich and dreamy!

This is also my entry for the Culinary Chocolate Smackdown.  For more information about this months contest check out the link below!

Recipe is also being entered into the Cooking with Nona Valentine Chocolate Dessert Recipe Contest

Tamale Dough

2 cups Maseca corn flour

2 cups warm water

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

3 tablespoons cocoa powder

1 package corn husks


Mix corn flour, cocoa powder and salt to combine, add water and stir to form soft dough, add more water if dough seems to dry, cover with plastic wrap until ready to use

Remove corn husks from package and soak for 20-30 minutes in very warm water, making sure to drench the husks, separating them and swishing them in the water several times. Set aside


1 cup fine chopped almonds

3 tablespoon Ancho chile powder

1 1/2 tablespoon cocoa powder

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 tablespoon honey

1/2 stick butter, melted

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon sea salt


Mix dry ingredients until combined, add melted sugar, honey and stir until mixture is well incorporated

Ancho Chile Fudge Sauce

1/2 stick butter, melted

2 tablespoons cocoa powder

2 tablespoons Ancho chile powder

1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon almond extract

1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoon honey


Melt butter in a small sauce pan over low heat, add dry ingredients and mix till smooth, using a candy thermometer make sure to keep the sauce from heating past 150 degrees, remove from heat and add extracts and honey, whip with a whisk for 1 minute. Let fudge sauce rest, reheat on low right before service

Forming Tamales

Remove husks from water and drain on paper towels, tear 2 large husks into strips and set aside, place 1 large husk or two small husks on a clean surface and add 2 tablespoons tamale dough, press down until about 1/4 inch thick, add 1 tablespoon filling mixture,

fold husk in half once, fold left side into the middle and then repeat on left side folding into the middle, use 2 or 3 strips of husk to tie bundle together,

steam tamales for 15-20 minutes, remove from steamer, open tamales and serve with fudge sauce, cinnamon whipped cream and slivered almonds.  I recommend serving a pipping hot, cup of black coffee with these gems♥

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Monday, September 6, 2010

Icelandic Yogurt Review and Giveaway from Siggi's Skyr

Lisa’s Foods on the Move is hosting a giveaway and review featuring Icelandic Yogurt from Siggi’s Skyr. The flavors sound divine, so take a trip over to her blog page and check it out!!

Lisa's Foods on the Move Print Friendly and PDF

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Biltong, South African Dried Meat, Fellow carnivores, where do you draw the line when eating exotic animal flesh?


South African Dried Meat

Recently, a colleague of my husband traveled on business to Botswana Africa where he had the opportunity to eat a traditional South African dried meat called “Biltong”. Rooibok (kangaroo and Ibok) , Krokkedil (crocodile) Giraffe, Hippo and Kudu; were all on the menu, add to that a bit of lion meat and dinner was served.

The Dutch settlers who arrived in South Africa in the 17th century brought recipes for dried meat from Europe. Many different types of meat are used to produce it, ranging from beef through game meats to fillets of ostrich from commercial farms. It is typically made from raw fillets of meat cut into strips following the grain of the muscle, or flat pieces sliced across the grain. It is similar to beef jerky in that they are both spiced, dried meats, but differ in their typical ingredients, taste and production process. The word biltong is from the Dutch bil ("rump") and tong ("strip" or "tongue").[1]

Source Wikipedia:

The word “game” is used loosely in the Wikipedia definition of Biltong, as well as most other sources defining and illustrating Biltong. This is where my personal experience meets Biltong for the first time and when my inner voice beckons to be heard.

I have no issues with most of the meats used to make Biltong but when faced with the offer to eat Biltong made with lion meat, I was filled a strange queasy feeling and believed that I might be committing an unpardonable sin. From that moment I’ve been grappling with this question; where do I draw the line when it comes to eating animal meat?

The non-meat eaters of this world have already taken a stand on this issue and have drawn the line for themselves when it comes to eating warm blooded creatures. I have many Vegan and Vegetarian friends who have challenged me about being a carnivore. After many heated discussions, I’ve often pondered my abilities to eat Gods creatures so easily. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a true carnivore. I love all manner of meats and have even been known to eat beef and fowl livers as well as hearts and gizzards, raw fish and the list goes on and on. My inner voice has always brought me back to the same answer; God gave us certain creatures to sustain our hunger and feed the population and some creatures to nourish our souls with love and companionship. Without regret and satisfied with my belief, I’ve cooked and eaten animal meat with flair and gusto and have loved my pets with the same passion as the meat I eat.

How is it that I will eat all manner of meat without flinching and when given the opportunity to eat Biltong made with lion meat I was stopped dead in my tracks?

We’ve all seen travel and cooking shows such as Andrew Zimmern’s Bizzare Foods and Anthony Bourdain’s No reservations, where the consumption of exotic and strange foods are embraced. As far as I can see, neither of these gentlemen are filled with guilt or ravaged by shame after eating myriads of bugs, worms, or five thousand year old baby chickens. Lips smacking and finger licking good, they both are paid the big bucks to explore the extraordinary.

Customs, social morays, cultural diversity, are the makings of our attitudes toward what we’re willing to put in our mouths and call food! I don’t believe we can judge or force our beliefs on others unless we base our judgments on mitigating facts. I hoped to find the mitigating facts about the legitimacy of eating lion meat to quell my guilt, so off to the World Wide Web to find some answers.

1. Are lions on the endangered species list? The African lion (Panthera leo) has been listed as Vulnerable since 2004, since it's wild population has declined by 30% to 50% in the last 20 years. "Vulnerable" means that there's a good chance that it will become endangered if the population keeps trending the way it is now, but it's not endangered yet. However, there are some lions for certain regions that are endangered.

2. Is it illegal to hunt and eat lion meat? The African lion (panthera leo) is protected under Appendix II, which allows commercial trade as long as it does not harm a species' survival.2

With my curiosity overflowing and armed with the knowledge that lions are not “yet” endangered, I accepted the offer to try a piece of Lion Meat, Biltong; a haunting voice filled my head as I lifted the meat to my mouth…”NO Reservation” ...Anthony…get out of my head!!!

I started first with the Giraffe, then the Roobok, Hippo and Kudo. They all tasted similar to our American version of beef jerky but the Giraffe was tough and dry. The Kudo, Roobok and Hippo were moister and the textures were similar to a steak that had been dried in the sun. I didn’t detect any gaminess in any of these varieties.

I saved the lion Bilton for last. It was marbled with pieces of fat and shimmered with oil when sliced, it smelled of earthiness, an almost herbal quality. It was delicious! The texture was oily but full in herbal flavors. The meat tasted similar to elk, with the same distinct dark red color.

Unfortunately or fortunately, depending on your personal views, I was unable to finish my piece of dried lion meat, as thoughts of the majestic beast rumbled around in my brain.

Fellow carnivores, where do you draw the line when eating exotic animal flesh? I would love to hear you thoughts and opinions…please be gentle with me!!!


Cat Specialist Group 2000. Panthera leo ssp. persica. In: IUCN 2007. 2007 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. <>. Downloaded on 24 March 2008.
Bauer, H. & Nowell, K. 2004. Panthera leo. In: IUCN 2007. 2007 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. <>. Downloaded on 24 March 2008. Print Friendly and PDF


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