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Wednesday, 31 October 2007
Sometimes it seems hard to be inspired when you sit down to design and decorate a new cake. This article was written to show you that inspiration is actually all around you. I hope the ideas found in this article inspire you to make amazing, unique cakes.
Before you begin designing your cake’s decorations, you need to decide on the theme for your cake. The best way to begin is to think of the purpose for your cake and then look at possible themes that can meet your purpose. Following are some ideas of themes that might help inspire you:
Your skill and equipment can help guide your ultimate decision. These ideas are to be taken as nothing more than inspiration to help you as you create your own work of art.
Tuesday, 30 October 2007
First birthday cakes are often the most stressful part of planning a baby's first birthday. Many new mothers want something special and memorable, yet easy to prepare.
The problem is they're just not sure where to start. Should you choose a cartoon character or an animal? Is a rectangle one better, or should you go round? Well, fear not. Here are 7 easy first birthday cake tips that will help you make the perfect cake.
1. Make It Kid Approved -
The first thing to keep in mind is that you need to make the cake with the kids in mind. Ok, so this may seem like a no-brainer, but consider what a kid likes in a birthday cake.
Gooey and sticky are always winners. Bright colored icing is a must. Also, keep in mind that your new baby will likely be eating it with their hands, so something spongy will help make it finger-friendly.
2. Make It Look Like It Can Move -
Chances are your little one will never remember this cake. But you can make it one they recognize and enjoy. But one-year-olds are learning about shapes and movement. Consider decorating it with cars or trains. Use big shapes.
3. Go Easy On The Sugar -
Your baby, as you know can have a sensitive stomach at times. By making their cake with less sugar, you can make sure their little tummy plays along. One easy way to do this is to use whipped cream instead of icing. It's easier to spread, too.
4. Two Is Better Than One -
With a first birthday, the mess is inevitable and frankly, your baby is more likely to treat their cake like modeling clay rather than food. But you have the guests to consider too. So, try making two cakes, a larger one for the guests, a small one for your baby to smash. That way everyone gets cake and a video-opp too.
5. Use A Thin Layer Of Icing First -
Icing the cake can make you want to cuss (bite your tongue, though). It never seems to fail that chunks of cake get ripped off while spreading the knife.
Two things you can do: one let the cake cool all the way. And second, spread a real thin layer of icing first and let it sit. This will make the second, real layer much easier to spread. Plus it's easier to camouflage places where the cake has peeled off.
6. Draw On It -
When cutting your sheet cake into a shape, use icing to draw on it first. This will ensure you have the shape you want before cutting. Plus the icing tastes better than an ink pen (that was bad, I know).
7. Make Your Cake Number 1 -
And finally, here's an easy way to cut your cake into the shape of a one. First, take your sheet cake and cut it down the middle long ways. Use one of these halves to make the "foot" and "upper lip" of the 1. The other half will be the main body of the 1.
To do that simply cut the selected half at the 1/3 mark. Take the 2/3's piece and place it at the bottom of the first long piece. That's your foot. Then take the 1/3 piece, cut it once from corner to corner, making a triangle, and use one of these as the "upper lip." That's it. Oh, and snack on the leftover piece.
There you go. First birthday cakes don't have to be the Booga Bears. With some simple techniques, you can pull off a winner very easily.
Monday, 29 October 2007
One of the most enjoyable ways to enjoy your home bar and wine furniture is to have a wine and cheese party. To make the party a big hit, however, requires creativity and planning. In planning your party, your first step is to select a theme. For example, do you want wines and cheeses from all over the world represented? Or, do you want wines and cheeses representing just one region, California for example. For the sake of putting our focus on a particular theme, let's use wines and cheeses from all over the world.
When you send out your invitations to the party, make sure they detail the party's theme. For time's sake it's best to assign a region to each guest, or multiple guests, depending on the number of people you anticipate will attend. Each guest will be instructed to bring a bottle of wine and a cheese from that region.
Alternate between red wines, white wines, and even sparkling wines with each invited guest. Give your guests a suggested price range as well. For some extra fun and ambiance, have your guests bring a theme decoration or two representing their assigned regions,( the country's flag, for example). Make sure that your guests are instructed to r.s.v.p. This is important for determining the supplies you'll need to provide.
When your guests arrive, give them a glass for red wine and a glass for white wine. Also have some Champagne flutes available for the sparkling wines. Make certain that you have at least one ice bucket and/or wine chiller available to keep the cold wines chilled. As far as needed bar accessories, you'll want a cheese slicer and several special cheese knives. The cheese slicer features a thin band, and is essential for many soft cheeses. If your guests have not cut up their hard cheeses, have them do so in small squares. Make sure you provide plenty of toothpicks. It's also a good idea to have bottled water handy to refresh the palate between wines and cheeses. Your guests should be situated in "stations" around your home bar area. A word here about wine openers. An event like a wine and cheese party will definitely help you understand the value of a "heavy-duty" wine opener! When you're opening this many bottles of wine, a commercial quality opener will make the task almost effortless. A savings of energy that you'll appreciate at the end of the day! Definitely invest in a quality opener if you haven't already.
Use a mobile wine cart to move around the room and attend to your guests. A wine cart is an excellent resource at a wine and cheese party! Also, for those of you that would like to get fancy, provide your guests with wine adornments. These adornments attach to the stem of the wine glass and allow wine drinkers to identify their own glasses. Wine adornments are available in a variety of wine oriented themes.
By following these simple suggestions and guidelines, your wine and cheese party will be a smashing success! It might even inspire you to form your own wine "club." Good luck!!
Friday, 26 October 2007
The holidays have a way of bringing change: people become cheerier, houses become more illuminated, and turkeys start carrying around Rosary beads, fervently hoping that no one notices them. From the family get-togethers to the meetings with old friends, the holidays are a time for love, joy, and kinship. Yet, before "Peace on Earth and Goodwill towards men" can really begin to solidify, one thing needs to be finished: holiday shopping.
Holiday shopping can bring stress upon just about anyone. If the packed department stores don't unnerve you, a rabid shopping cart to the back of your heel surely will: there's nothing that increases blood pressure quite like a Wal-Mart in December.
However, there are certain gifts that allow for avoidance of long lines, screaming children, and the "Sold Out" signs sure to plague the Tickle Me Elmo section of local department stores. One of these is the gift of wine, a gift that represents friendship, celebration, and so much health that it runs a close second to giving a kidney. Because there are a variety of ways wine can be given, it is simply one of the easiest gifts to give and an even easier one to receive. When giving wine, there's no need to keep the receipt.
Enrolling a friend, a spouse, or a relative in a Wine Club is one of the most unique gifts you can give the wine lover. For the wine novice, a Wine Club provides education on and exposure to the different types of wine, all the while teaching the drinker that wine does not necessarily come in a box. For the connoisseur, a Wine Club allows the drinker to keep their cellar full as bottles show up on their front porch with the regularity of a full moon. A Wine Club also indulges members with inside information, special deals, wine secrets and exposure to rare vintages.
What's more, Wine Clubs are an extremely easy gift to give. The Internet is swimming with a variety of Wine Clubs, clubs that provide quick and easy enrollment. However, when giving the gift of a Wine Club, keep in mind that some are only allowed to ship to certain states. Thus, be sure that you find one able to deliver to the state where the gift recipient resides.
Personalized Wine Labels
Personalized wine labels are one of those rare gifts that combine emotion and practicability: the bottle's label allows for the conveyance of a personal touch while the bottle's contents allow for enjoyment of a different sense. A personalized wine label is something that can be held onto: long after the bottle is emptied, it can be kept the way cards, letters, and photographs are stored, all retained with the purpose of sentiment. From giving newlyweds a wine bottle that reads, "First Christmas" to giving your parents one that reads, "Thirtieth Christmas," a personalized wine label invites a plethora of possibilities.
A personalized wine label is particularly great when coupled with wine that evokes even more sentiment. Giving someone wine from a year that is of particular importance or from a region that they hold as special can make a personalized wine label, and the wine inside, that much more cherished.
Wine Openers and Accessories
Wine is a product that has several accessories: it is the teenage girl of the alcohol industry. Because of this, many wine lovers can always use wine devices to supplement their collection. From something as small as a wine opener to something as large as a wine rack, anything to do with wine makes a great gift for both the accomplished wine connoisseur and the aspiring wine connoisseur.
For those who already have everything from a wine charm to a set of Riedel wine glasses, from a wine journal to a wine partridge in a wine pear tree, bottles of a favorite wine make great gifts. Because people who love wine - people who replaced their ice box with a wine refrigerator, people who wash their wine glasses with silk cloths, people who named their first born son "Corky" - can never have too much, just giving a nice vintage is always suitable.
Giving wine as a gift does possess some risks. Not only do you run the risk of purchasing a bottle and "accidentally" drinking it before you can give it to the recipient, but there is also a slight chance that you will get someone a bottle of wine they don't find particularly appealing. In order to minimize this risk, be sure to buy the recipient the type of wine they like, not the type you like. If you are buying for someone who loves white wine, try to stay away from purchasing red, no matter how cute the Merlot looks sitting on its shelf.
For instances where you are unsure of what wine a person may like, try giving them a wine basket with a variety of wines or a gift certificate to a wine store.
Port, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir are increasingly becoming the gold, frankincense and myrrh of the modern day, establishing themselves as gifts of the wise. Because the holidays bring about so much stress - preparing for the arrival of in-laws, cooking a turkey dinner, watching for poop as reindeer fly over head - wine can help the giver give something easy and the receiver drink something soothing. As a gift, it's a win-win situation: when it comes to wine, one size fits all.
Thursday, 25 October 2007
Purchasing wines through a wine club is an advantageous way to buy wine. A wine club provides among the very best wines at huge values to people who might not otherwise have access to them.
A good wine club selects wines from wineries that are off the beaten path and produce a small amount of wine. Many small wineries make their wines from their own estate, which in many cases are low yield vineyards. Wines made from low yield vineyards are the most intensely flavored and sought-after wines you can buy which is one reason why a wine club would choose to offer wines exclusively from small boutique wineries.
A reputable wine club offers the best wines that are available to wine club members, and wine club members get the best prices possible. A wine club purchases their wine club selections direct from small wineries at better prices than consumers and most retailers can negotiate. A wine club purchases wine in large quantities so that the winery can sell their wine to them at discounted prices. Of course, wine clubs are in business to pass on these discounts on hard-to-find wines to their members.
Purchasing wine through wine clubs is also an educational way to buy wine. Wine clubs usually publish information about the wines that they offer to their members. Wine clubs commonly send a newsletter about the wine, the winery, the people involved and can also include recipes and other pertinent information. All of this enhances and adds value to your wine club membership.
Gourmet Grocery Online purchases all of the wine that it offers from California boutique wineries or from international boutique wineries that are small producers of ultra-premium wine.
Tuesday, 23 October 2007
Thanksgiving dinner is a great time to gather family and friends in celebration. Hosting Thanksgiving dinner can be very stressful and require a lot of hard work. If you find yourself lucky enough to be invited to Thanksgiving dinner at a friend or families home, you should consider offering a gift to show your appreciation for the time and effort that was put into the meal. Here are some great gifts that will celebrate the season and show how thankful you are for a great meal you didn't have to prepare.
Monday, 22 October 2007
Today the planet seems smaller than ever. Our modern world with all of its inventions has made it possible for people living on opposite sides of the globe not only to know about each other but also to become friends. Friendships are made by way of travel or through the Internet. This highly communicative world has made it possible for people to share information about their culture, language and of course cuisine. Originality is a must when it comes to gourmet food and location has a great impact on what will be viewed as a delicacy.
Knowing what to eat and when
It is true that gourmet food is much more than its ingredients. In most part of the world people expect a delight for the eye as well as an exquisite taste when they order in a gourmet dish. It is also considered more interesting to eat exotic foods; which brings with it the possibility of something that would be considered quite regular in its land of origin but gourmet somewhere else.
In most places of the world people love to eat cheese. In America, Swiss cheese is considered a delicacy and in Europe the French are known for their cheese making skills. In order to take the cheese up the ladder from making the morning sandwich really tasty it can simply be melted in the evening and served as Fondue. The same bread used in the morning will now be dipped in the cheese and the meal is considered gourmet food.
Time and place does matter when it comes to gourmet food. Sometimes a regular food takes on a completely different look and becomes the latest hit in one place while another food is tied to a specific time and its place of origin.
While many Swedes view the Italian Caffe Latte as a gourmet version of coffee the Italians leave it to the tourist to pay lots of money to drink their morning coffee in the afternoon. Something the Italians most likely will never view as gourmet food is the Swedish root called the black root. This root is especially cooked for the annual festival of Marten the Goose. A food connected with a local festival usually stays local unless the festival takes on wings.
While the black root is a rare Swedish delicacy, snails can be found in most of the world. Repulsive to some, snails are viewed as high class cuisine to others. Under the much more elegant name of Escargots Americans and Europeans can order in this French dish as an appetizer. It is usually spiced up with garlic and butter and it is carefully prepared not to contain any toxic item that the snail might have eaten.
There are many examples of ingredients that can only be found in certain places and are therefore viewed as exotic. The truffle is a mushroom that has been called "the diamond of the kitchen" by Brillat-Savarin. It is mostly produced in Europe but there is also a Chinese version called the Chinese Truffle. This delicacy is sought after all over the world and it is very expensive. The Black Summer Truffle can cost up to $670 a pound.
Some ingredients are tied to season and can therefore be considered a seasonal gourmet food. In general gourmet food wouldn't be viewed as gourmet if it didn't taste, smell and look great. A fresh dessert with strawberries can certainly be produced year around by importing the berries but people are quite picky when it comes to these delicious red treats. It seems that in most countries around the world people believe that their native strawberries are the best. Dipped in the finest Swiss chocolate it just won't be the same treat if the berry was imported from Greece!
Recipe of the Day
Chocolate Chili Marshmallow Tree
This is a desert treat with an excellent visual effect and yet simple to make; you can even add Christmas decoration to make it look like a Christmas tree. This recipe also uses the chocolate chili sauce, for those who has not try this combination, please give it a go, you will be more than pleasantly surprise.
The candied fruit is used to add in effect, so use something like orange which are sliced and half or kiwi fruit. Another alternative to candied fruit is dried fruit such as kiwi fruit slices. However, whichever you use, make sure it is of a contrasting colour.
2 or 4 People depending how much you are willing share?
1. 3 x 250g packet of Dark Chocolate Rocky Road
2. 1 x 100g packet of soft candied fruit
3. 1 x 250ml jar of Dark Chocolate Chili Sauce refrigerated
4. 1 x 50g unsalted roasted peanuts coarsely chopped
1. Clean a flat serving plate with an approximate diameter of 25cm; make sure it is completely dry.
2. Build your tree using by cutting the rocky road to the appropriate size from big chunk at the bottom to smaller chunk at the top to achieve a conical shape.
3. Insert the candied or dried fruit pieces along the tree in regular interval or according to your fancy at the time.
4. Drizzle the dark chocolate chili sauce from the top to the bottom of the three generously. Avoid covering the whole tree with it and the candied/dried fruit. If the chocolate chili sauce does not drizzle, dip the bottom into a container of warm water for a few minutes to soften it.
5. Sprinkle with the coarse nut and serve immediately.
Saturday, 20 October 2007
What would autumn be like without pumpkin pie? Fortunately, we may never know. Pumpkin pie is very much a part of Autumn in America, dating back to the early settlers. This pie recipe, however, is special, because it adds the gentle flavor of natural maple syrup. It is pretty, too, by adding maple leaves made out of extra crust to float on top of the pie, making it particularly suitable for festivities such as Thanksgiving.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit
1 ½ cups white flour
1 tsp salt
2 Tablespoons dark brown sugar
½ cup shortening
5 - 6 Tablespoons ice cold water
Special tool: maple leaf cookie cutter, optional.
A few tablespoons Turbinado or castor sugar.
Combine flour, salt, and sugar. Using a fork or pastry knife, cut shortening into flour mixture. Add cold water one tablespoon at a time until it holds together but is still crumbly. Roll out about a half cup of mixture to 3/8 inch thick and cut 1-3 maple leaves. Set aside. Roll remaining dough out into a pie crust and place in pie pan. Trim, fold over, and crimp edges. Set aside.
For Maple Pumpkin Pie filling:
15 oz puree of pumpkin
12 oz condensed milk
½ cup maple syrup
½ cup dark brown sugar
½ tsp salt
1 tsp allspice
In a bowl whisk together two eggs. Add pumpkin puree gradually and whisk, then the condensed milk and whisk. Add maple syrup, dark brown sugar, salt, and allspice and whisk together. Pour slowly into prepared pie crust. Bake at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes then lower to 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Then gently drop a maple leaf(leaves) on top of pie and continue baking at 350 degrees for another 35 minutes or until firm. Remove and allow to cool. This pie is particularly lovely when served warm with vanilla or dulce de leche ice cream.
Friday, 19 October 2007
As the winter season approaches it's now time to think about cooking hearty soup recipes. If the winter season has already found you without the necessary skills to prepare wholesome great tasting soups, read on. It's my opinion that nothings beats a steaming hot cup or bowl of hearty soup.
Are you reminiscent of the old days, when grandma or your mother warmed your belly with your favorite soup? If your experience were similar to mine, you'd give anything to get those days back. Cooking soup may have seemed difficult back then, but in fact making homemade soup is quite easy.
There are basically three key ingredients to making soup that satisfies the soul as well as your belly.
First, you can't rush perfection. Good soup is worth waiting for so don't cheat the process. Cooking soup is more than just tossing all the ingredients into a pot of water and bring the water to a boil and cooking as quickly as possible. Great attention should be paid to preparation such as cutting and adequate time should be given to slow cook your soups. If anybody try's to tell your otherwise say "Hogwash".
Second, the best soups use fresh ingredients. Many people will tell you that great soups can be made with leftover food ingredients. Just go to any upscale restaurant with a reputation for great tasting soup and see how many of their soup dishes feature leftover ingredients. It just doesn't happen. Take the advice of the professionals and always use the freshest of ingredients, NO leftovers.
Third, if you really want your hearty soup to stick to your stomach, use a base other than water. Milk and cream soups with potatoes and beans or a combination of the two work best. You could also use a tomato base, beef or chicken base depending upon what type of soup you're into.
There you have it, three key ingredients that all of your hearty soup recipes must have. Now the only thing left for you to do is find a couple of soup recipes and get to work cooking up some hearty soup.
Thursday, 18 October 2007
Wine lovers from around the world often form a wine club to discuss their love of wine and learn more about some of their favorites. There are many different notions that can influence what a wine club is, but most often it is simply a place to meet people with similar interests and experience new tastes and flavors. With a wine club, people find they are able to learn more and have a great time doing it.
Wine clubs often function as an online resource these days, enabling their members to get in touch with other members perhaps over a large message board or chat client. People can meet up for wine tasting or other events pertaining to wine and can organize such events using the wine club website. Some wine clubs even allow their members the ability to buy wine online through the website. This option to buy wine online, often at reduced rates, is usually enough of a catalyst to get people involved in wine clubs.
People can make all sorts of new friends and contacts through a wine club. This comes out of having similar interests, and learning and discussing the wines. Many friendships come out of wine tasting and other events, creating a lasting legacy for bringing people together over the wonderful elements of wine and good conversation.
A wine club also tends to have a lot of insider news on the industry. Online wine clubs, for example, will post much of their online wine news on their website and will unveil unique information for their members only. This is a great way to get wind of a new wine that is coming out soon or learn new techniques for tasting and sampling wines.
You can find a great wine club anywhere. They exist all over the world and function with a goal of improving wine awareness and getting like-minded people together for a good time. Like any other organization, a wine club combines a shared interest, with a social aspect to get people interested. A wine club is very valuable and enriching, introducing and effectively marrying the idea of wine and friends.
Tuesday, 16 October 2007
1 dozen chicken wings
1 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup honey
1 teaspoon ginger, crushed and chopped
Mix together soy sauce, honey, and ginger. Marinate chicken overnight. Grill in oven or barbeque.
Blood and Guts with Eyeballs
1 package green spinach pasta (elbow macaroni is best)
1 jar spaghetti sauce
stuffed Spanish olives
Boil pasta according to package instructions. Heat spaghetti spaghetti sauce. Cut olives in half to make "eyeballs" and place on top of the "blood and guts."
Easy Caramel Corn
3 quarts popping corn
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup corn syrup
1 stick of butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Put popcorn in a heavy paper bag. Melt butter in a saucepan and mix together sugar, syrup, and salt. Add 1/2 teaspoon baking soda and stir well. Pour into paper bag and stir with a wooden spoon.
Put bag in microwave and cook on high for 1 1/2 minutes. Take out and shake well. Cook for another 1 1/2 minutes. Shake bag again and pour into a large container. Serve in paper baggies that kids can decorate.
Yummy Pumpkin Dip
2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softend
1 large 30-ounce can of pumpkin
4 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons ginger
Whip together and serve in hollowed out small pumpkin. Serve on a plate covered with black licorice "worms" or any Halloweenish candy such as candy corn. On the side place ginger snaps for dipping. Toasted Treats
Rinse the pumpkin seeds and remove all pumpkin. Dry on paper towels. Spread pumpkin seeds, slivered almonds, and coconut onto a shallow baking pan.
Bake at 350F degrees for 5 to 10 minutes until golden.
Easy Pumpkin Cheesecake
1 9-ounce Graham cracker pie crust
2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 16-ounce can of pumpkin
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
Bake crust for 5 minutes in a 350F degree oven then set aside.
Mix together in a large bowl cream cheese, sugar, and eggs. Beat on medium speed until smooth. Add pumpkin, cinnamon, and ginger and mix until blended. Pour pumpkin mixture over pie crust.
Bake for 40 to 45 minutes at 350F degrees. Let cool and refrigerate overnight. Plop a dollop of whipped cream on top of each slice and sprinkle with cinnamon.
3 cups sugar
1 cup oil
2 cups pumpkin
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon allspice
1 cup pecans, chopped
Mix together sugar, oil, eggs, pumpkin, and vanilla in a large bowl. Combine dry ingredients in a separate bowl, add to pumpkin mixture, and stir well. Then add nuts. Bake in 2 loaf pans or coffee cans in a 350F degree oven for 1 hour 10 minutes.
This bread is always a hit!
Pumpkin Ice Cream
1 gallon vanilla ice cream
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
6 cups whipping cream
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6-7 drops red food coloring
5-6 drops yellow food coloring
Prepare this recipe the night before the party. Chill two 1/2 gallon freezer bags. Than put each freezer bag in a bowl. Let the ice cream soften a little, then scoop half the ice cream into each freezer bag and sprinkle pumpkin pie spice on top of ice cream. Freeze overnight. Chill a large bowl and beat together whipping cream, sugar, vanilla, and food coloring to make a pumpkiny orange color. Refrigerate icing.
The next day remove ice cream from bags and place on a clean surface. Form into a pumpkin shape. Place it on a cookie sheet. Spread the orange icing around the ice cream. Use a spatula to make the pumpkin ridges. For the stem, take half a banana, dip it in chocolate syrup, and stick on top of the pumpkin.
Put the ice cream pumpkin in the freezer until ready to serve. Then transfer it to a serving tray. You can make jack-o-lantern eyes, nose, and mouth out of Halloween candies, too. Serve with chocolate syrup.
Apples are an important part of the Halloween festivities. Try this healthy apple on a stick recipe in place of caramel apples.
Healthy Apples on a Stick
12 apples (plus 12 popsicle sticks)
Rinse apples, pat dry, and remove apple stems and insert a popsicle stick into stem of each apple. Cover apples by spreading peanut butter. Roll in raisins, dried cranberries, and shredded coconut.
But, hey, if you love caramel apples, try this caramel apple recipe...
12 apples (plus 12 popsicle sticks)
4 14-ounce packages of caramels
8 tablespoons heavy cream
Rinse apples, pat dry, and remove apple stems and insert a popsicle stick into stem of each apple. Combine the cream and caramels in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir constantly until caramel is melted and smooth. Dip the apples into the caramel until completely covered. Let the extra caramel drip back into the saucepan. Roll in crushed nuts.
Line a baking sheet with waxed paper. Place apples upside down on waxed paper and refrigerate.
Maple Baked Apples
6 tablespoons brown sugar
6 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup apple cider
1 teaspoon cornstarch
2 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
Rinse apples and pat dry. Core apples (remove the seeds) without piercing the bottom. Peel upper half of apples and place in a baking dish. Drop a spoonful of brown sugar in each apple. In sauce pan, dissolve cornstarch in cool cider. Add lemon juice, maple syrup, brown sugar, and spices. Stir well over medium heat until thickened.
Fill each apple with the maple sauce, then top apples with 1 tablespoon of butter each. Pour 1/2 cup water in baking dish and bake for 1 hour in a 375F degree oven. Top with raisins or chopped nuts. Serve hot with vanilla ice cream on the side. You can also pour the remaining maple sauce over the ice cream or sprinkle ice cream with cinnamon.
HALLOWEEN DRINK RECIPES
1 gallon orange juice
1 liter ginger ale
1/2 gallon orange sherbert
Mix together orange juice and ginger ale. Scoop sherbert and add to punch.
Green Ghoul Punch
1/2 gallon limeade
1 liter ginger ale
1/2 gallon lime sherbert
Mix together juice and ginger ale. Scoop sherbert and add to punch. Add marshmallows and maraschino cherries to float in punch.
Easy Apple Cider
1 gallon apple cider
4 cinnamon sticks
1/4 cup sugar
Mix together and boil for 10 minutes, then remove cinnamon sticks and cloves. Serve in a black cauldron.
Monday, 15 October 2007
Apples, apples, apples! So many to choose from and so little time. So which is your favorite? Red Delicious are one of the most popular eating apples, and Golden Delicious run a close second. They're both crispy and sweet, perfect for kids' lunches or an after-school snack.
Other apples are more tart and better for cooking and baking. Some of our family's favorites are McIntosh, Gala, Fuji, Braeburn, Jonathon, and Granny Smith. All make great pies, breads, muffins, and applesauce.
So where should you store your apples? In a cool dark place. A good place is in the refrigerator in a well covered container (to keep them from drying out). Make sure to handle your apples gently to avoid bruising.
Roadside apple stands are a sure sign of autumn. Apple cider, apple pie, apple crisp, I just can't get enough. Enjoy them while they're in season for the best selection and prices, and try a couple of these recipes to enjoy them to their fullest.
4 c. tart apples, sliced
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
3/4 c. brown sugar (packed)
3/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 c. flour
1/3 c. butter, softened
1/2 c. rolled oats
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease an 8x8-in. baking dish. Arrange apples in the pan. In a medium-sized bowl, mix remaining ingredients with a fork. Sprinkle on top of apples. Bake for about 30 minutes, until apples are tender and topping is brown.
3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/4 cups oil
2 apples, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)
1 teaspoon baking soda
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a large bowl, mix together all ingredients until well blended. Pour batter into 2 greased loaf pans. Bake for about 1 hour.
Baking apples, uniform in size
1 to 2 tbsp. brown sugar per apple
1/2 tsp. butter per apple
1 tbsp. raisins per apple (optional)
Cinnamon or nutmeg
Select some good baking apples that are uniform in size. Wash apples and remove the cores, but do not cut all the way down to the bottom of the apples. Peel the upper third of the stem ends of the apples. Place apples in a deep baking dish and put brown sugar and butter in the center of each apple. Sprinkle with cinnamon or nutmeg. Pour 1 c. water around the apples (or to a depth of ½ inch). Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 60 minutes. Serve warm or cold.
Wash and core apples. Cut a thin slice of apple off of the stem end. Make a shallow slit around the circumference of the apple about 1 inch from the bottom to keep the skin from shrinking while cooking. Place brown sugar, butter, raisins, and cinnamon or nutmeg in each apple. Place in a glass baking dish and cover with waxed paper. Microwave on high 6 to 10 minutes or until tender.
Originally published at Suite 101. Rachel Paxton is a freelance writer and mom who is the author of What's for Dinner?, an e-cookbook containing more than 250 quick easy dinner ideas. For recipes, tips to organize your home, home decorating, crafts, holiday hints, and more, visit Creative Homemaking at http://www.creativehomemaking.com
Friday, 12 October 2007
If you’re celebrating Halloween with a party this year, chances are that you’ll want to have a stunning cake to wow your guests. Here are three Halloween cake ideas to get your creative juices flowing.
For those who are ambitious in the kitchen, a haunted house makes a perfect Halloween cake. Take one sheet cake and frost with black or brown frosting for the base of the cake. Then, with a second sheet cake, cut up pieces of cake to construct a “house” which is held together on top of the base with frosting (and wooden skewers, if necessary). Then frost the house and add windows, doors, scary pumpkins, and spooky bats. A graveyard beside the house with creepy ghosts and spindly trees is an added bonus.
For kid-friendly fare, a spider web Halloween cake is great. Cover a plain round two-layer cake in black frosting. Then, pipe on white frosting in the shape of a spider web. In the center of the web, create a large spider, either with frosting or with non-edible decorations like a black pom-pom and pipe cleaners.
A scary Halloween cake is perfect for more grown-up gatherings. Body parts are a great idea: a cake in the shape of a severed hand, skull with oozing green filling, or bleeding heart can all be simple to make but have a huge effect on your guests. If you can’t find a cake pan in the shape that you want, get creative and look at other cake pans that you might be able to use to achieve the shape you want. If all else fails, just make a sheet cake and cut it into the required shape.
Your next Halloween cake can be as tame or as spooky as you like it. The important thing is to have fun with it and make it a truly unique part of your celebration. When the sugar highs wear off and the costumes have been tucked away into the closet, everyone will remember the effort you put into making your Halloween cake special
Thursday, 11 October 2007
Autumn brings to mind thoughts of brightly colored leaves falling from trees, days growing shorter and football games at the local high school. For children, autumn means Halloween and the fun of carving jack-o-lanterns. Historically a sign of fall, pumpkins are an integral part of the season and adorn school classrooms and front porches. There is more to a pumpkin than a scary faced jack-o-lantern however. Inside each chubby, brightly colored shell lie the beginnings of many delicious and tempting dishes and desserts.
When faced with the dilemma of selecting the right pumpkin for cooking or baking, how do you know which to choose? Although perfect for the best possible jack-o-lantern, the biggest may not always be the best for cooking. Usually, smaller pumpkins have less water and more yummy pumpkin flesh and less waste.
What is the best technique for preparing a fresh pumpkin for cooking or baking? Start by slicing the pumpkin in half crosswise. Put the halves, cut side down, on a pan and bake for 45 minutes at 325 F or until tender. When the pumpkin has cooled it can be peeled and easily mashed. Most 5 pound pumpkins will give you around 4.5 to 5 cups of cooked, mashed pumpkin. A pumpkin will keep for two months if refrigerated.
Here is a delicious pumpkin recipe to try at home:
3 cups cooked, mashed pumpkin
2 eggs, beaten
½ c pecans, chopped
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp butter, melted
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp ground mace
Dash of pepper
½ c pecan halves
½ c firmly packed brown sugar
¼ c maple syrup
Combine first 8 ingredients, stirring well. Pour pumpkin mixture into a lightly greased 1 ½ qt casserole. Arrange pecan halves on top of casserole. Combine brown sugar and syrup in a small saucepan; cook, stirring constantly, over medium heat until mixture reaches a boil. Cool slightly. Spoon glaze evenly over casserole. Bake, uncovered, at 350F for 40 minutes. Serves 6
Tuesday, 09 October 2007
The Mocha Pudding Cake is a big hit for kids of all ages. It's simple to prepare and the hot chocolate pudding rests under a thick blanket of moist mocha cake. Poppy-Seed cakes are also a good choice for birthdays. Lot of the birthday parties which I attended had one of the either of two types of cakes.
One of them is the chocolate-fudge cake and the other is the poppy-seed cake. I love this cake because it is unlike traditional cake recipes. The taste and texture is so unique.For total decadence, scoop it into bowls and serve drizzled with heavy cream (or milk). This mocha pudding cake is ready for picnics, potlucks and parties. Better save this recipe because you’ll be asked to make it again and again.
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour or whole grain pastry flour
1-2 cups sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (fresh)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
Pinch of ground cinnamon
1/2 cup organic 2% milk
1/4 cup organic canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup hot brewed coffee
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 10" deep-dish pie plate with oil spray.
In a large bowl, mix the flour, 3/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup cocoa, the baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Stir in the milk, oil, and vanilla (the batter will be thick).
Spread in the prepared pie plate and sprinkle with the brown sugar, remaining 1/4 cup sugar, and remaining 1/4 cup cocoa. Pour the hot coffee over top.
Bake until the cake is set on top and the pudding starts to bubble up through the cake, 30 minutes. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Use a spoon to serve.
Wednesday, 03 October 2007
Pasta is the supplest Italian fare. While it is tremendously popular here in the United States, believe it or not it’s far more popular in Italy. Pasta is for the most part made from flour. However, an assortment of types of grain can also make pasta. In order to make pasta wheat flour is united with water and often also prepared with eggs. When the concoction is done, it is kneaded and shaped into a whole variety of shapes. The vast amount of pasta that is cooked is first boiled before served, however pasta can be baked, but before doing so it is more often than not boiled.
Pasta is very reasonably priced and can be very satisfying. It’s a starch, and while most Americans are well-known with the dried pasta that is in long thin rods- spaghetti, it can also come fresh and in virtually any shape including shells, tubes, spiral, very thick noodles, etc. Italians submit to all pastas as macaroni, however, here in America we usually refer to macaroni as small tubular shell type shapes of pasta.
Pasta with Tomato Meat Sauce
In a large pot boil water to ¾ full and add a teaspoon of olive oil and some salt. Once the water boils add in the pasta and stir for a minute or two to ensure that it doesn’t stick to the bottom. In a frying pan, add some oil and then add some hamburger meat along with a chopped onion. Cook the hamburger meat until medium or well done. In a sauce pan, add contents of tomato sauce. Let simmer on a low to medium heat. Do not cook the sauce fast, it will only burn it and become dry. Once all items are complete, mix all ingredients, season with salt and pepper to taste and serve hot. Yields about 4 servings.
Stuffed Shells in Tomato Sauce
-1 16 ounce box of large pasta shells. (Make sure that the shells are already pre cooked and ready to be baked. If not, you will have to first boil them and then bake them.
Heat your oven to about 350 degrees. Fill the shells with ricotta cheese. Typically each shell can be filled with about 2 tablespoons of cheese. Once filled, place the shell on a baking sheet and cover the shell with foil. Cook for about 20 minutes. In a medium sauce pan with a low to medium heat simmer tomato sauce. Once complete spread shells with sauce. Other variations include adding meat to the sauce, spinach, etc.
The Menu Mom", http://www.themenumom.com is known online for her popular meal planning programs. For her personal favorite stuffed shells recipe go to http://www.dinewithoutwhine.com/stuffed-pasta-shells.htm
Tuesday, 02 October 2007
Having a Halloween party is lots of fun, and that should include the food too. Instead of the usual, try some of these Halloween-themed foods to really liven up the party. These ideas would also make a great edible gift to bring along if the hostess asks for your help with food for the party. If you are hosting a kid's party, you can involve your children in helping to make any of these treats.
- Scary Jell-O shapes. There are a lot of Jell-O molds you can buy that are perfect for Halloween. Two of the more common shapes are brains and hands. Use red gelatin (cherry or raspberry) to fill the mold, then "garnish" around the mold with a knife and fork so guests can enjoy a slice. If you really want to make an impression, use a flesh colored flavor (like peach), and then use some red food coloring drops along the cracks of the gelatin. For an adult only Halloween party, you can make spiked Jell-O with vodka or other alcohol.
- Pumpkin or Apple cheese ball. These are fun cheese balls you can make that are shaped for the holiday season. To make a pumpkin cheese ball, you'll want to use cheddar cheese, with just enough cream cheese to hold it together. Form the ball into a pumpkin shape, and use a dull knife blade to make the ribs on the pumpkin. Keep it wrapped in the refrigerator until it is time for the party. You can make a "stalk" for your pumpkin using an upside down piece of broccoli stalk. Put your pumpkin in the center of a lined basket, and surround it with gourmet crackers. To make an apple-shaped cheese ball, you can use the same ingredients; only shape your mixture to resemble an apple. Right before serving, roll the ball in paprika to give it a red coating, and use a cinnamon stick and bay leaf for the apple "stem."
- Halloween punch. To make a memorable party drink, make a light-colored punch, and then use Halloween-shaped Jell-O molds to make giant themed "ice cubes." For example, you could use a hand mold, fill it with red juice, and then freeze it. Just before the party starts, pop the frozen juice out of the mold and put it in the punch bowl. Not only will it make an eerie floating hand in the bowl, but since it's frozen it will help keep the punch cold.
- Spider web cupcakes - These cupcakes are sure to be a hit. First, make a batch of your favorite cupcakes; chocolate, apple spice and pumpkin are popular options. Then top with a white or cream cheese frosting. Finally, using black food coloring, decorate the tops of each cupcake to look like a spider web. The easiest way to make the spider webs is to make 2 or 3 concentric circles with the black icing, then drag a toothpick through the icing outwards from the center. Repeat the toothpick dragging four or five times are the top and you'll have a realistic effect. You can also use Halloween themed paper cupcake liners.
If you don't have time to make treats for your next Halloween party, check out Holiday Gifts & Gift Baskets. We have a great selection of halloween gifts, including candy, cookies and more. And shop our site year-round for great holiday gifts for Christmas, Valentine's Day, Easter, Mother's Day and more. Whatever holiday you are celebrating, make it memorable with a gift from Holiday Gifts & Gift Baskets.
Monday, 01 October 2007
Halloween has constantly been one of my much loved holidays. In all probability because of the utter amount of sugar involved. As a kid (or adult for that matter), what other holiday can you dress up amusing and stuff your face full of candy and sweets and not get yelled at? And then there are all of the fun (and sometimes completely revolting) things that you can serve to your friends at Halloween parties that you would never dare to serve on any other holiday. The only time it is allowable and even expectant to put worms, spiders, bugs, and bats in your food. Happy Halloween!
Grease a large jellyroll pan. In a large saucepan over low heat, melt the butter and marshmallows together. Mix it together until it is smooth. Put the crispy rice cereal, candy corn, and mini chocolate chips into a large bowl and mix well. Mix the orange food coloring into the marshmallow mixture and mix well. Put the marshmallow mixture into the cereal mixture and mix it together quickly. Spread the mixture into the greased jellyroll pan and press it down into the pan with well-greased hands (butter works best). Press the candy pumpkins onto the bars, keeping in mind how big or small you will want to cut the bars. You can have fun with this by serving it in a bed of gummy worms, cut “bites” out of the candy pumpkins and have the gummy worms look like they are eating the pumpkins.
Sparkling Halloween Punch
In a large bowl, mix the apple cider, orange juice, pineapple juice, and apricot nectar. Refrigerate for 2 hours or more. Right before you are ready to serve it, mix in the ginger ale and add the orange and lemon slices. Drape gummy worms over the sides of the bowl. For an added Halloween touch, put small plastic spiders in ice cube trays and fill with water. Put in the freezer and add the spider ice cubes to the punch.
Jill Seader loves to share her baking recipes at www.YourBakingStory.com. She has a passion for baking and stories that she shares through recipes and recipe scrapbooking supplies. Come share your story or create one of your own!