Tag Archives: dessert

Fun Food!

12 Apr

Food is center stage in my home quite often.  The kitchen is truly the heart of our family home, and I love hanging out there.  When I say that food is important to my family, I don’t mean constantly eating junk laden food.  Taking the time to prepare food with family is enormously rewarding.  It is a family value and time well spent together in a warm comfortable accepting environment.

My children have always felt welcome inviting their friends over for meals.  My youngest son recently said “mom, my friends asked me what my mom would do if you told her 30 friends were coming over.  I told them that you would say…Are they staying for dinner?”.  He said it in a matter of fact way.  He meant it.  And he was right!  That is the true heart, the essence of my home for which I am truly grateful.  My children’s friends are welcome, and they know it.  My friends too.  I love a home filled with friends, family, food and fun!

We have great meals and nutritious food, but we have loads of fun too.  I enjoy cooking, but am not much of a baker.  I can sure improvise though.  And have a blast.  My kids do too!  I love to cook, but the teeny tiny side of me that bakes rears its ugly head every now and again.  Not really one for cookies, I turn to making cakes with the children.  We put a spin on it though.  We will make fun cakes for most any occasion!

My daughter Delaney and her friends Lorena making the traditional "Bunny Cake" for Easter!  So Fun!

My daughter Delaney and her friends Lorena making the traditional “Bunny Cake” for Easter! So Fun!

When we make cakes, we use a high quality cake mix.  Those work just fine for non bakers like myself.  But I always make the frosting from scratch.  I learned how to make out of this world frosting from my mom.  She very wisely advised me to “always make a little too much frosting by accident”.  Was she ever right!  I was never voted Prom Queen, but when I make frosting I am Prom Queen for a moment..the most popular girl ever!  What do I mean by popular?  Let me tell you!

When I bust out my frosting, a line forms in the kitchen.  Kids.  Denis.  His mom.  Everyone lines up to grab a spoonful of frosting before it makes its way to the cake.  Everyone but my youngest son that is.  The baby of the family (I am one too!) is a scrappy bunch.  We learn survival of the fittest at a very young age!  Anywhooo, my son doesn’t grab a spoon and stand in line. Nope, not him.  The moment he notices a naked cake cooling on the counter and a stick of butter nearby softening, he loudly “calls the beater”.  Now that is the holy grail when making frosting, let me tell you!  He is a smart kid.  No line, no waiting, and a solid guarantee of a good dose of moms incredible buttercream frosting.  Yup, that’s my boy!

But I digress!  Back to the cakes.  I do not have lots of room in my kitchen for a bunch of specialty cake pans.  So I improvise.  I make 2 round cakes, or a round cake and a square one,  and cut it to fit the occasion.  I have also made a rectangle cake for my sons, and with colored frosting made everything from a football field cake with action figures to a construction site cake with matchbox bulldozers.  So much fun, and the creativity flows.  Food should be fun, so go have a blast!

Our fun bunny cake!

Our fun bunny cake!

Our heart cake for Valentines Day.

Our heart cake for Valentines Day.

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Shortcuts

28 Oct

It’s getting chilly.  Fall is in the air.  Time to have evening bonfires in the back yard.  The smell of an outdoor fire is amazing…and it represents fall for me.  The kids have a blast.  There is something about a hot crackling fire juxtaposed with the chilly fall air that is exhilarating.  A fire glowing on everyone’s face, kids sitting in chairs wrapped up in fleece jackets, and s’mores.  Yum!  S’mores are a campfire staple.  It’s a shame that you need a campfire to enjoy them.  Or do you?

Okay.  Picture it.  Perfect fall day.  Sun is shining, and the temperature is in the 40’s.  Nice and cool.  Perfect hiking weather.  So after getting Saturday morning errands done early, we set out on a fall hike.  And it was beautiful!  The trees were turning a million shades of red and orange.  Looking upward, the blazingly colorful leaves looked beautiful against the blue Carolina sky.  The scenery was beautiful and the hike felt so healthful!  After a couple of hours of solid hiking, we headed home.  And we were starving!

When we got home, we needed to eat, and fast!  Snacks on the trail were not holding up at this moment.  Although we worked up a sweat on the trail, a shower and “destinkifiying” was going to be second to having lunch.  So I went about grilling up a couple of sandwiches.  And we wolfed them down!

A shower was imperative at this point.  It’s true a skunk can’t smell himself, but I knew that the sweat I had worked up on the trail wasn’t resembling Chanel No. 5!  Off to clean up!  Then we snuck in a late afternoon catnap while catching up on our college football.  After the nap it hit me.  The craving.  So I cheated…and took a huge shortcut.

I had a craving for something sweet. The morning was filled with physical activity, and even though lunch was relatively healthy, something was missing. A trip to the pantry was in order. I foraged through the shelves, and came up with the winning answer.

Jumbo marshmallows, a chocolate bar, and graham crackers. There it was. The trifecta! This was going to lead to something naughty for sure.  I started down the road with reckless abandon.  Here comes my shortcut.

I pulled a bamboo skewer out of the kitchen drawer.  I announced, to no one in particular and with a slight air of haughtiness, that I had just found the most perfect marshmallow roasting stick out in the yard. Everyone knows that a stick from the yard is the only way to start lining up marshmallows for s’mores, but I was already on my cheating road. A skewer was my quick fix.  I loaded that thing up with 4 jumbo marshmallows and set it on the counter.

Next, with a bit of a mischievous feeling, I unwrapped an entire chocolate bar and set it ever so gently on a graham cracker.  I set another perfect graham cracker by its side.  The rich scent of chocolate was almost too much.   I had to sneak a tiny taste and let the chocolate melt on my tongue.

Next, I fired up a burner on my gas stove.  My mouth was beginning to water.  I hate that I was cheating with my s’more…there was no campfire in sight.  No blankets, no crackling fire glowing on the faces of the campers.  Just a gas stove and a craving that had to be addressed.  But I foraged ahead.

I roasted my skewer full of marshmallows on a gas burner.  A bit of a guilty feeling was creeping up, but I pushed it down as the scent of burning marshmallows began wafting through the room.  Oh yes, I roasted my mallows until they had that perfect brown color with some areas of charred burnt sugar.  They were beginning to slip off the skewer.  Time to rush those bad boys onto my chocolate covered graham cracker.

Oh yeah.  I laid those roasted marshmallows down on that chocolate and picked up another graham cracker.  With many years experience driving this culinary delight, my expertise was evident as I ever so gently laid that second graham cracker on top of the marshmallows and slowly slid the skewer out of the middle of the mallows.

A moment to pause in the s’more process here is critical.  The marshmallows have to smoosh.  The chocolate has to begin melting.  This is a work of art in the making.  Then comes the first bite.  Oh so good!  The crunch of the cracker, the creaminess of the chocolate, the dripping oozing marshmallows.  This is a solid 10 on the old “yummy meter”.   Yup, this shortcut was paying off big time!  That nasty craving was quickly disappearing.

A post script here.  This is not a first date food.  This is not even a food that should be eaten in the beginning of any relationship.  It is just impossible to look cute on a date with food falling from your mouth and strings of marshmallow hanging across your chin.  And of course a giggle is inevitable, which opens up the possibility of more food falling out of your mouth.  So make sure your relationship is rock solid before attempting this decadent treat with your person of significance.

So go ahead.  Get a solid campfire going.  Get graham crackers, chocolate and jumbo marshmallows ready.  Celebrate fall with some smooth creamy s’mores!