Friday, January 30, 2015


Southern Living Magazine  is a favorite of mine and when I spotted the delicious Chocolate Goodness cake on the cover of the February 2015 edition I just knew that was (or my version) what I was going to make for the Alzheimer's Idaho support group meeting tonight. If you follow the blog then you know I am a volunteer for them and one of the things I do is to make their dessert each month for their dinner.

The photo reminded me of a recipe that I have used before that I think is from The Charleston Cake Lady - Teresa Pregnall.  If you don't know about her she was famous in the south and wrote wonderful little cookbooks and gave out her recipes - they were simple, many using a mix, you did not have to have some odd thing from the gourmet store, just good desserts.  When I still lived in California I had the great pleasure of calling Charleston to order her cookbooks for friends and both times she answered the phone and we had nice long chats - a real southern lady.  Sadly, she passed away in 2008 but you can find both her recipes and books by just put Charleston Cake Lady in Google and see what comes up - many links with lots of recipes.
I am calling this triple chocolate because it has a devil's food mix, chocolate Jell-O pudding, chocolate chips and then just for kicks and giggles I added 1/4 cup black chocolate - guess that is really four kinds of chocolate.
 I normally spray my bundt pans with either Baker's Joy or Wilton's version of a spray product with flour but I was out so I sprayed with some non-stick butter spray and dusted with some malted milk - just another layer of chocolate - teehee.
This is a very thick batter and will not pour into the pan - I used a large rubber spatula to get the batter into the bundt pan.
A good tap on the bottom to get any air bubbles out and into the oven.
Once out of the oven, let it cool for at least 1.5 hours on a rack and then slide a kitchen knife around the edge and make sure it is not sticking in the center.
Came out pretty good but it does not really matter as you are going to drizzle ganache and then some white frosting and any imperfections will disappear.
This is a sweet rich cake so I chose to make my ganache with bittersweet chocolate.
A very simple way to drizzle the ganache or other frosting (to get that more professional look) is to take the cooled frosting/ganache and put into a ziploc bag, push it to one corner, twist the bag so that the frosting feels firm and hold the corner point of the bag pointed up and just nip off the corner and you are ready to go back and forth across the cake. First with the ganache and then with the white frosting.
Drizzle on the white...make a tent card for description...
A label for the ice cream - now don't you think that Nigella's yummy coffee ice cream will be great paired with the cake??

Recipe - Triple Chocolate Cake


·         1 (18.25 ounce) package devil's food cake mix

·         1 (5.9 ounce) package instant chocolate pudding mix
·         1 cup sour cream
·         1 cup vegetable oil
·         ¼ cup black chocolate (if desired)
·         4 eggs
·         1/2 cup warm water
·         2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
·         ¼ cup powdered black chocolate (if desired)


1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
2. In a large bowl, mix together the cake and pudding    mixes, sour cream, oil, beaten eggs and water. Stir in the chocolate chips and pour batter into a well greased 12 cup bundt pan.
3. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes, or until top is springy to the touch and a wooden toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool cake thoroughly in pan at least an hour and a half before inverting onto a plate

Chocolate ganache

1 cup heavy cream
8 ounces chopped semi sweet chocolate
Pinch of salt

Bring cream to a boil in a medium pot. Add chocolate and let stand 5 minutes. Add salt and stir until smooth. Let stand 10 minutes, then pour over cake allowing the glaze to drip down sides and cover cake. Let set 3 hours at room temperature or 1 hour in refrigerator. 

White Glaze

2 cups powdered sugar
3-5 tablespoons milk or cream, depending on the desired consistency
½ t vanilla

Sift the powdered sugar and then add three tablespoons milk or cream along with the ½ t vanilla, stir to combine, if desired add more cream/milk and using a wire whisk beat until smooth and creamy.

Recipe - Coffee Ice Cream

  • 2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
  • 2 tablespoons espresso liqueur – I use  2 T cold coffee and 1/2t vanilla paste in place of the liqueur – since this does not cook the alcohol will still be there and not everyone wants that so the coffee/vanilla works.
  • 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
Nigella's recipe calls for double cream which is not readibly available here in the US - dbl cream is heat treated and then quickly cooked and is 48% butter fat while US heavy whipping cream is 36% and has been pasteurized. If  you can get this cream then you can combine all the ingredients and whip until stiff peaks form and then freeze.


Put the condensed milk in a bowl and stir in the espresso powder and liqueur (or coffee vanilla mixture). In a separate bowl whisk the cream until it reaches stiff peaks. Fold the cream into the condensed milk mixture, then pour this gorgeous caffe latte-colored airy mixture into an airtight container and freeze for 6 hours or overnight.  Serve straight from the freezer. 


Ice cream recipe, Nigella Lawson

Thank you for stopping by.

Thursday, January 22, 2015


Inspiration sometimes is not easy to come by.  I don't know how other bloggers work but I keep an ongoing list of items and projects that I think I want to do and post.  My goal is to post three times a week and sometimes more sometimes less.  My little world got turned upside down this week with the illness of someone near and dear to me and so my Valentine's Wreath that was supposed to be done and posted yesterday is here today!
I started out with this big, white, twig wreath, nice huh?
 Gathered some things I thought might work.....
 Hey, maybe a graphic will save this......
 OK, this falls into the category of WHAT WAS I THINKING? The crafty me and shiny-sparkling stuff usually don't mix.
Finally found my comfort zone with some printed hearts from the Graphic's Fairy - coordinates with my Valentine Tree.  I took the heart graphic and made three different sizes, printed them out, cut around them and now they are ready to be laminated (even though my porch is covered by laminating them they will stay fine in any weather).
Here they are all laminated and cut our and ready to attach to the red skewers and put onto the wreath.  With a lami-label you are supposed to pull off the back for the sticky side (hence label) but I don't want these to be a label I just want them to be able to withstand moisture so I just put a dab of hot glue on the back to adhere the hearts and now I have picks for the wreath.
So we went from this to the finished product......
So here is my finished product, the hearts are a little shiny but I like them. Getting ready to decorate for Valentine's Day next week.


Wreath, Save-on-Crafts, Link
Heart graphic, The Graphic's Fairy, Link 
Bamboo skewers, grocery and specialty stores
Red Paint, Annie Sloan "Primer Red" or any other red paint
Red Polka Dot ribbon, Costco
Greenery, Hobby Lobby
Tulips, Big Lots

Thank you for stopping by.


Monday, January 19, 2015


It is my habit to send a package before each holiday to my adult son's and their family.  Today I made these little hearts for the fab five, our beautiful and wonderful grandchildren. What you cannot see in this photo is that there is a little pocket in the back for a gift card.

Supplies needed:
Heart Pattern, Google 
Felt, either by the yard or felt squares
Other fabric, 1/4 yard lengths cotton fabric for hearts
Fiberfill for the stuffing
Pinking shears
Sewing machine
Carpet or other heavy needle
Bone Folder or other item to help with the stuffing
Cotton Ribbon or other ribbon
Inkjet light fabric transfer
Draw program to flip the image OR use Windows Paint
Needle and thread 
E-6000 Glue if adding a pocket for gift card

1. Cut one heart and one (or if you prefer two felt or two fabric) hearts out at the same time so that they are exactly the same.

2. Cut the ribbon in 10" lengths - this is more than you need but will give you a good "tail" on each side to clip with the pinking shears.

3. Using a draw program or Microsoft Word type out your "love" words. Be sure and flip them as you will be ironing them onto the ribbon and if you don't flip the words will be backwards - normally you only do this one time!  lol.

4. Print them out on an inkjet light fabric transfer and allow to dry.

5. Using a very hot iron (NO STEAM) iron your words onto the ribbon - follow the instructions on the label but most importantly, use a hot iron, no steam, and go back and forth across the label making sure it adheres - DO NOT even think about pulling the label off until it is completely cooled or you will ruin the label and the ribbon.

6. Cut two strips (using pinking shears) from the 1/4 yard printed fabric (being 1/4 yard it is the PERFECT length so you do not have to measure).  I made one strip (for the handle) 1 1/4" and the other (for the bow) about 1".

7. Just turn the cut cloth together and stitch down and press, trip threads and you have the bow and the handle.

8. Now you can either sew the ribbon when you sew the heart or wait until later and sew it by hand.  I did both and really think it looks better by hand because you use white thread and it disappears. Personal preference.

9. Starting at the top of one side of the heart curve sew to almost the center and then add one of the strips that you have put ends together and sew them into the center of the heart.  Keep sewing until you get to about 2" before the start area. Back tack.

10. Fill the heart with fiberfill using the bone folder. Using the big needle you can "move" the fiberfill around to get a finished look.

11. Using your machine complete the stitching and the heart is closed.

12. Take the last little strip and fold it upon itself so it looks like a bow and tack to the front of the hanger.

If you want to add a gift card just cut a little pocket and glue it to the back of the heart.

 You can see on this one that I sewed the ribbon with the machine.
Next I cut a little square out of the felt and glued it (using E-6000 glue)
Here they are, ready for the mail and for local delivery. 


Font on Cotton Ribbon (free font), Freebooter Script,
Fabric, Hobby Lobby
Fiberfill, craft store
Felt, Michael's
Cotton ribbon, Ebay seller
Avery Light Fabric Transfer, Staples
Bone Folder, Martha Stewart
Specialty needles, Fabric Store
Draw Program, Corel Draw
E-6000 glue, Hobby Lobby

Thank you for stopping by!

Saturday, January 17, 2015


One of the things that happens around our house after the holidays (besides letting our breath out and patting ourselves on the back for "doing it again.") is that we go to our project list and see what is to be done that we either stopped or put on the back burner once we became engrossed in the holiday preparation, etc. This project was not hard to find because it was under my feet, under my work table calling, "line me, fill me, take me out to a picnic."
Meet my picnic basket - if it were human it would be a grandmother!  A few things about this basket, it is approximately 14x9x8, made in USA and I think made out of hickory and it has been used a lot and is still perfect. We like to picnic and when we lived in Monument, CO our spot was Garden of the Gods - so easy to get to, so beautiful, so peaceful.  We have not found our spot here in Idaho but are determined to do so this spring. I was tired of lining the basket with napkins or small cloths that had to be laundered so I decided to line the basket and in the process make it easy to wipe out when necessary to clean and to protect the basket.
This is actually a pretty fast and easy project and you can sew the lining by hand or use a machine.  I chose a flannel backed plastic as opposed to a genuine oil cloth as this flannel backed plastic is very easy to work with and easy to sew with. I will try and make this simple.......1) Set the basket on a piece of the fabric and draw (I used dashes see below) around the bottom of the basket leaving a 1" seam allowance.
I have had this flannel backed plastic for a very long time and it was a little wrinkled - you can iron, using a low setting on the flannel side to get the winkles out of the fabric.

2) measure two lengths of the flannel backed plastic fabric for the sides and top, once again a 1" seam allowance and on the top leave and extra 5-6" so that you can turn the top over and it will have enough flannel backed plastic fabric to lay over the top, no seams are necessary. You can always trim the fabric if you think it is too long when you turn it over the top of the basket.

3) put your hands inside and pull the fabric so that the seams are in the middle both front and back 4) taking a needle and a very long piece of thread weave in and out all around the fabric and then you gather the fabric until it is the right size to fit on the bottom piece. 5) pin the bottom to the sides and either by hand or machine stitch the bottom to the sides and you are done with the exception of fitting the handles.

 Put the liner into the basket and turn the top over (you do not want to glue this in because you want to be able to take it out to wash and have the ability to get into all the creases in the sides of the basket, or at least I do). 
All you have to do to fit the handles is to make a mark on the fabric with a felt pin where the handle will be and make a cut and pull the fabric around it it will lay flat. I cut some lengths of 1.5" seam binding for the bows - just wanted to add a little something.
The silverware is from a long ago Target trip but with the exception of the bento box the rest of the containers are from the Dollar Tree, including the cupcake/muffin containers and the red and white table cloth. Container sizes for sandwiches, veggies, pickles, etc.  

The bento box is great because it will store flat but when needed for chunks of fruit or a potato salad, etc. it will open to the larger size (see photo above) and be great.
 Is it perfect? No, but it fits snugly in the basket and the sides are long enough to fold over and it is now lined and will protect the basket and be easy to clean. I'm happy!
Basket is filled with containers and there is still room for plates, a bottle of wine or thermos of hot drinks or soup.  I always toss in a zip lock with napkins, wipes, mosquito wipes, salt and pepper, etc. I prefer an open basket as we have had those English types with the fitted items and the closed lids but this works much better for our type of impromptu picnics.


Basket, use one you have on hand or find a really sturdy (preferably made in USA) basket.
Liner fabric, Hobby Lobby (very reasonable) or other craft stores.
Seam binding, sewing and craft stores
ECO one Bento Box, Gourmet and specialty stores.
Betty Crocker storage containers, Dollar Tree, grocery store

Thank you for stopping by.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015


My youngest son when asked what he wanted for his recent birthday dinner was quick to say "tacos."  With that in mind I set about to create a menu.
 After the menu is set - the tablescape is next....
My country French rooster crossed the pond and became Senior Gallo!
I have always bragged that my hubby has a small but excellent repertoire in the kitchen.  One of the items he always cooks is tacos.  He uses a recipe from my beloved MIL.  I do not know if he ever had a written recipe or just made the tacos from the memory of watching his mother.  These tacos are best with ground beef but I also like them made with ground chicken.  They do not have any typical Mexican spices in them as they are made with the addition of vegetables, carrots, potatoes and onions.  Serve with salsa and taco sauces so your diners may add spices as desired.

Poppa's Tacos

2 Pounds good, lean ground beef (or lean ground chicken)
3 carrots, grated
3 medium potatoes, peeled and grated
2-3 medium onions, diced
Onion Salt

Brown the ground beef, drain off excess fat. Add the potatoes, onions and carrots. Season with salt, pepper and the onion salt to taste. Stir often but let the mix get a little brown on the bottom before turning, the carmilization that occurs during this step is what gives these tacos their distinctive flavor - be careful not to burn. This should take 20-30 minutes.

These tacos are best served with crispy corn tortillas but are also good with warmed flour tortillas.

Serve with  bowls of shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, sharp cheddar cheese, and a variety of salsas and taco sauces. You may also want to add some guacamole and sour cream to your selection of condiments.

Serve with Mexican rice and re-fried beans.


Yellow Plates, 222 5th
Chicken Napkin Rings, Antique Farm House
Glasses, Kohl's
Runner, Fiesta
Napkins, Bed, Bath & Beyond
Red handles flatware, Hampton Forge
Salt & Pepper Mill, Pier One
White candlesticks, Oddity Home

Thank you for stopping by.

Monday, January 12, 2015


My after Christmas shopping list this year included 24" trees, with lights if possible.  On my list of items to do this year was small trees for each holiday.  This white tree did not have lights so I added a string of 50 battery operated lights. The tree is held firmly but not permanently to the mini-colander and the mini kitchen type ornaments will be used with other themes.  I will use this same tree for St. Paddy's Day, Easter and 4th of July - just changing the mini-colander when necessary and the theme decorations. With this in mind the add on items are just attached with a simple tie so easy to remove, box and label them for next time. I have just the spot in my kitchen for a tree and anytime I have a dinner party and want to serve buffet style I will have a nice centerpiece! 
As I mentioned this tree is 24" but you could use any size tree, just fluffed out the limbs a little....
Because I will change out the mini-colander for St. Pat's and Easter I do not want to put anything permanent inside to stabilize the tree so I just used a little Tacky.
Next I put on the lights and hid the battery pack in the back.
I pulled down my Valentine decorations box and found this fabric garland.  A garland like this is easy to make (I think I will have to make on for St. Paddy's Day).  Measure out a length of heavy cord or  twine and then cut strips of fabric, ribbon and felt and just tie them on the cord tying a loop on the ends.  I purchased this one (Michael's I think a couple of years ago) it is perfect for the tree.
I then added some miniature kitchen utensils and turned on the lights to see how the tree was looking....

 Added some heart ornaments....
I had this little Anna Lee in my Valentine's box and she looks precious tucked into the tree....
Of course a tree needs a topper so I moseyed over to the Graphic's Fairy (will provide a link below) and found this perfect heart and printed two of them out on white cardstock, cut them out, glued them together (to give the heart good stability) and punched a couple of holes towards the bottom and ran some red cotton cord through the holes and tied to the tree and then made two bows and tied one for the front and one for the back.
The final thing that I did was to put some red sizzle into the mini-colander to finish off the look. it is the Valentine Tree!  I can't wait to do the St. Pat's, Easter and 4th of July Tree using this same white tree just different decorations.....this was big fun.


Annalee Dolls, The small Annalee's run about $25 directly from but TJ Maxx & Marshall's always has them discounted for every holiday and then red tagged after the holiday.
Garland, Michael's (last year)
Small grater with red top, Cost Plus (.79 cents)
Mini-colander, Cost Plus ($1.98 assorted colors) 
Wide red-checked ribbon, Costco
Little red styrofoam ornaments, Michael's
Antique mini-kitchen utensils, Ebay seller, here is a link to a strainer she has on sale now:Link
Tree, TJ Maxx (after Christmas)
Battery Lights (50 light), even though the review's were mixed on these lights I took a chance and LOVE them,GBB LED 50 Super Bright Indoor and Outdoor Battery Operated Christmas Wedding Fairy String Lights on 5M/16ft Long Silver Color Ultra Thin String Wire
Heart on top, The Graphic's Fairy, Link
Love sign and plate, Marshall's (previous years)
Tacky, Hobby Lobby, Michael's, craft stores

Thank you for stopping by.