Saturday, January 17, 2015

Spumoni Birthday Cake

A few years ago we were invited out to dinner. 
We had never visited this restaurant before 
and I have to say I was
very disappointed with my menu selections.

For the main course I ordered
Broasted Chicken.
It made sense to me that Broasted 
should be a compound word
for "oven baked-roasted".

I was wrong.
And although the server offered to bring
me something else, he seemed rather frustrated
that everyone at the table agreed
I was served deep fried chicken.
I declined the offer.
I ordered it, so I ate it.
 Eventhough something deep-fried 
was the very thing I was trying to avoid.

Turns out "Broasted" is different than deep-fried
 in, as far as I can understand, that
deep-fried foods are cooked by floating
 on top of the oils, cooking one side at a time 
and requiring turning to cook both sides.
Broasted foods, on the other hand,
are pressure cooked in the oils so that all sides
are cooked evenly at the same time.
Okay, so I learned something I didn't know before.

For the dessert course
I settled on a Spumoni Cake.
Mmm, I thought, I'm already familiar
with Spumoni ice cream...
the Italian version of Neapolitan
with flavors of Chocolate, Cherry and Pistachio.
Love it.

I could envision the cake wondering
would these three flavors be a
bundt style cake where the flavors
were swirled all around?
Or, would it be a beautiful 
three (3) layer cake?
I was excited to try it and couldn't wait
for our server to bring it.
It would be the perfect end to a not so perfect

And when the server came
he set a bowl of ice cream in front of me!

Ice Cream?!?!?!?!? 
Did the menu description
say anything about ice cream?

NO,   it said, 
plainly in black and white,
Spumoni CAKE
ice cream is not cake, folks.

Well you can see how I've overcome
my dissappointment over the years. Ha
I can tell you this, I've learned to ask my 
restaurant servers alot of questions
about menu items, their ingredients and 
how they are prepared. 

this week was my husband's birthday.
I haven't forgotten the beautiful
Spumoni Cake I'd envisioned that night.

For this birthday I departed
from the usual predictable decorated
birthday cake and made a 
Spumoni Cake.

I didn't follow a recipe but used
these cake mixes.

Each mix made two layers
so, after baked, I put one layer of each flavor
in the freezer for another time.

To the chocolate cake I piped Nutella into the
cake batter.  Being rather thick, it didn't want to break off so
became these little strips instead of little dollops.

To the Cherry Chip cake I added 
chopped maraschino cherries and a couple
drops of red food coloring.
It turned out a pretty pink but looks kinda
orange here.

To the white cake I added a 1/2 teaspoon
or so of almond extract and 4 drops of
green food coloring.

I wanted a light whippy "frosting".
And discovered a product called TruWhip which is 
an alternative to Cool Whip
that claims
all natural, non gmo certified, 
has no hydrogenated oils,
no high fructose corn syrup.

I stirred together
a small box of instant pistachio pudding mix
and 1/3 - 1/2 cup of milk
and folded it together with 1 container of TruWhip.

I stacked the cakes with the 
chocolate on the bottom
cherry chip in the center
 and almond flavored white cake
tinted a pale minty green  on top.

Frosted all the sides and piped rosettes on the top
to hold the candles.

There....all done.

 Pistachios sprinkled around the top
or pressed onto the sides of this cake 
would have been more impressive,
but pistachios, being a softer nut, can get soggy
and need to go on immediately before serving.
 I opted not to add any to this cake.


Happy Birthday Dear

Sharing at Jan's Daily Cup

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

A Favorite Quote for National Hot Tea Month

January is National Hot Tea Month

If you are cold, tea will warm you.
If you are too heated, it will cool you.
If you are depressed, it will cheer you.
If you are excited, it will calm you.
                                ~William E. Gladstone

Friday, January 2, 2015

What I Made for the Christmas Kitchen Ornament Swap

Well, now that the holidays are behind us
and things have settled down a bit,
allow me to do a little backtracking
and show you what I made
hosted by Erica at Golden Egg Vintage.

I was partnered with 
Trisha at American Honey Home.
You can see what she made for me
in my previous post here.

The rules were that we were to make 
 two kitchen related ornaments,
one tag or card,
include a favorite recipe,
and anything extra
maybe something "sweet".

Last year I played around with making 
Christmas card Putz style glitter houses 
They were allot of fun
and they turned out so cute. 

For Trisha I decided to make something similar,
a Gingerbread House.

Made from card stock,
with a flame-less battery operated tea light inside.

I decorated the roof to resemble candy dots.

And added lots of snowy glitter 
a little bottle brush tree at a corner in the 
front of the house.

This ornament was small enough that it 
could hang on a tree if you should so choose.

I think it would be wonderful under 
small glass cloche.

My second ornament was a
Gingerbread Man
made from an air dry recipe of
applesauce and cinnamon.

I got this recipe from my son's second grade teacher
close to 20 years ago.  
I made some tree ornaments back then
(gingerbread men, rocking horses, reindeer, 
angels, and more).
We've hung them on the tree every year since then.
And every year they smell delicious every time I 
open the box and unwrap them.

Since I was going with the gingerbread theme,
I printed off a printable found online
and applied to a shipping tag
over some coordinating art paper.

Added a dictionary clipping of gingerbread,

and attached a 
vintage measuring spoon,
and a 
tiny bite-sized gingerbread man cookie cutter 
with a strip of
Christmas homespun fabric.

Read a previous post to see 
more about the tiny cookie cutter.

Then I antiqued the tag and
added glitter around the edges.

The recipe I sent to Trisha is one of my very favorites
and one that I've made since a young girl
found in my mom's Better Homes & Gardens
 recipe book.

"Frosty Date Balls"
found on page 41

I prefer pecans instead of walnuts.

I love how the cookie balls get all goey
when rolled in powdered sugar
straight out of the oven
while still piping hot.

I tucked a few 
Christmasy sweet treats of
chocolate, peppermint and English toffee.
(and hoped Trisha wasn't diabetic)

Merry Christmas Trisha, thanks for being
a great swap partner.

Thank you Erica for hosting a great Swap Party!

Warm Hugs,

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Our Naughty or Nice Christmas Gift Exchange

They say Christmas is for kids right?

Well in our family the kids
have all grown up.

with the exception of the above photo, all (other) photos are from online sources
because I was just having too much fun to take photos

My husband and I have
 3 twenty-something children.

I have three siblings with spouses
and between those three families
there are 7 more cousins/grandchildren
also in their teens and twenties.
Two of which are married adding
two more twenty-somethings.
Occasionally a boyfriend or girlfriend
may be thrown into the mix.

For Christmas last year at my Mom's house
there were, as I remember, 17 adults.
My sister and her husband and their
two married daughters had other plans
and did not attend.

Gifts for small children is always fun
but for adults it's just a bit more challenging 
so we had ruled "no gifts".
We would have a nice gathering
for Christmas dinner.

No Gifts??
It just isn't Christmas without gifts!
I don't care what it is,
it's just nice to have something to open...
something small,
NOT a gift card thank you.
Something to hold
to wonder "what could it be?"
you admire the wrapping,
the shiny bow,
something unexpected that
warms the heart
and brings a smile.



 I had heard one of the girls at work
talking about their family Christmas...
They have small children so of course they
enjoy watching them open their gifts of toys, etc.
Then the adults also have a grab-bag type
of gift exchange but were going to
try a new gift exchange game....

My ears perked up....

Something she had found online... the
"Christmas with the Right Family" story.
I decided to print off a copy for myself too.
It sounded like fun.

In this game/gift exchange
everyone sits in a, near as possible,
circular arrangement around the room 
holding the gift they are giving,
and someone reads the story aloud.

During the reading of the story
every time the word "left" or "right" is read
everyone passes their gift in that direction.
Kind of like musical chairs but with passing of gifts.

I made my own version of the story to 
add to the story line, incorporating more
left and right passes,
and added an "across" pass.
When the word "across" is read
you exchange gifts with the person
seated across from you.

 I've provided links at the end of this post
so you can print a copy
to use at your own party.

Since this was pretty much a last minute decision
I decided I would provide all of the gifts
for the exchange myself
instead of asking everyone to
bring a gift to share.

Since there is no way of knowing who is going
to end up with which gift
 all of the gifts have to be generic....
that is to say 
appropriate for all ages
non-gender specific.

And since I hadn't really budgeted for
buying 20 gifts
I put the emphasis on
the game not the gift.

To get everyone in
the same room away from the television
off the smart phones, etc.
for the fun of fellowship in playing the game.
No costly gifts.

Then I had idea...

"Then he got an idea.  An awful idea.
The Grinch got a wonderful, awful idea"!

I would put my own spin on it.
I'd make some of the gifts
Naughty !

and some of the gifts 
Nice !

hahahah, (wringing my hands)
this would be soooo fun!!

I set a budget of $3 - $5 per gift.

I labelled the gift either Naughty or Nice
in a place that would be visible
after taking off the outer gift wrap
by applying a label to the tissue paper
resting on top of the actual gift item
just inside the box under the lid
or that would be visible when you peeled back
the box flaps.
The recipient should announce to
onlookers if they've received a
naughty or nice gift.

I warned everyone at the beginning
of the game that some of the gifts 
were Naughty and some were Nice.
Everyone's curiosity was 
instantly piqued,
and the fun 
insanity began.

I piled all of the gifts in the center 
of the living room
and told everyone to chose a gift.

Right away, my sister insisted...
"What are all those gifts?
Bet, did you bring gifts?
We weren't supposed to get gifts!

After shushing her, I told them 
they were just fun dollar store gag gifts
for a game.
So anyhow, choose a gift,
it doesn't matter which gift 
you don't get to keep it.

My husband read the story
and it was a bit of a workout
keeping up with
passing the gifts along
and catching the one thrown
into your lap from the person
next to you. 
Imagine 17 adults springing out of their
seat and heading into the center of the room
to exchange their gift box with the
person who had been seated across from them.
It's crazy!  
"Take mine","no he sits across
from me, no me,  I'm exchanging with her"
"I don't have anyone to exchange with"
"okay, change with him then
exchange with me".
The room was loud with laughter and chatter.
You just got sat back down, gifts spinning
around the room, left then right, then right again
then left
then everyone up out of their seat to
exchange across the room aaagain!

Pure fun 
and at moments,
 pure chaos.

So after the story was read and
all of the gifts were settled
we opened them one at a time while everyone
else watched with anticipation.

who got a Naughty gift?

Will I get a Nice gift?

If I get a Naughty gift, what could it be?

As I remember my sister was the first 
to get a Naughty gift...

Snowman Poop!!   (giggle)
a ziploc bag with mini marshmallows.

The Naughty gifts were just a bit naughty
but mostly silly 
and I was sure to
tuck in something nicer or useful too.

So there was also a little snowman hanging
tree ornament in the gift box
tucked in with the snowman poop.

My sister laughed and made comment
that there was a theme going here
when she and eventually
 both her daughter and son
received more Naughty gifts... niece and nephew each received a different style of 
reindeer antlers and reindeer poop!!!

My daughter, on the other hand ,
LOL, there's NO WAY anyone could have planned it,
was on the receiving end of a gift
labelled  Nice...

Nutcracker "Sweets"

a nutcracker of course 

along with candy  in nutcracker packagings...

and a nutcracker lottery ticket

Another naughty gift was

"Coal 'd Hard Cash"

Christmas "coal"

along with Holiday Cash Lottery Tickets

My Mom was the recipient of this one
(probably the only time she's ever played)
and unfortunately she didn't win anything 
on the scratch offs.


Oh,  Fudge

N  "Ice"   ?

Walgreens sells a brand of products
called NICE!.  So that makes it easy to add
more nice gifts...

So with a little imagination
and some inexpensive items 
we had loads of fun.

All of the twenty-somethings begged,
Oh,  Aunt Betty, that was so much fun
can we do it again next year!?

There are a number of
stories around the internet.
You can find one of those
"Christmas with the Right Family"  

I 've never offered any printables
before and I'm not really sure how to do that
so I've written my version of the story
on another"page" of my blog.
You should be able to 
highlight the story, right click and print.

Click here 
or on the tab at the top of this page
to get
 My Adaptation 
"A Naughty or Nice Christmas
with the WRIGHT Family".

A Blessed and Merry Christmas to All 
and to all a Happy Gift Exchange,

Christmas Hugs,