Red Velvet Cake with Mocha Cream Frosting

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Tuesday, November 21, 2012 was Spane’s 9th birthday. He originally asked for a Red Velvet Cake, but then said he wanted Chocolate Cake with Mocha Frosting that I made for his 7th birthday, and was the base for the Jolly Roger Cake of the Pirate Rack Rachham that I made for his 8th birthday. At the last minute, I decided to give him his original request, a Red Velvet Cake.

Yes, I know that Red Velvet Cake is all over the place, and mostly nasty, truly horrific. When Red Velvet cake became popular all over the country, short cuts were made, and what resulted was a dense, flavorless cake, with a greasy shortening “cream cheese” frosting, that I am sure was made with cream cheese flavoring, and nary a bit of real cream cheese. I make a real Red Velvet Cake, that uses real cream cheese, cake flour, and vinegar/baking soda leavener.

Anyone who reads this blog knows that I just can’t make an ordinary anything, I always have to umph it up a bit, and this cake was no exception. Instead of using white vinegar, I used Balsamic vinegar. I also used a Mocha frosting instead of the traditional cream cheese frosting. It was a real hit.

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Curried Egg Salad Open-Face Sandwiches

Recipes in this PostJar of Cross and Blackwell Major Grey's Chutney

I have a very good friend who said to me once, “Does everything with you have to be gourmet?” and I said, nonplussed, “Yes!”. Why do you have to go to a restaurant when you can make gourmet food at home, for a fraction of the cost! I was reminded to this today when I started to make egg salad sandwiches for lunch, and decided to make this a Curried Egg Salad Sandwich.

Probably, one of the reasons I can do this is because I have a good pantry, a good spice rack, and I’m not afraid to try new foods. That means I usually have good curry powder in the spice rack, and Major Grey’s chutney in the refrigerator. I have to watch the chutney, though, because Spane likes to eat it by the spoonful, right out of the jar.

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Fry Baby, Fry! Beer Battered Fried Fish and Onion Rings, Avocado Fries

Recipes in this PostRice Flour Beer Batter Fried Fish, Onion Rings, Avocado Fries and Stuffed Wontons

I don’t eat a lot of fried food, but sometimes, you have to fry. I wanted to make Avocado Fries, and considering that there was already going to be a pan of hot oil, why not throw some other things in as well?

My friend, Amber Lewis, chief cook and bottle washer, and event planner extraordinaire at Cool Dreams, makes these wonderful Bacon Wrapped Dates and Artichoke Stuffed Wontons. She suggested we make fried onions to go with our other appetizers, and I said we should make beer battered fish to go with it.

Amber’s son, Zeik, helped make sauces, including Chipotle Lime Sauce, for the onions rings and avocado fries.

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Eggnog French Raisin Toast – Noël en Juillet

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Eggnog French Raisin Toast - Christmas in July

Eggnog French Raisin Toast – Christmas in July

One of my favorite things about the Christmas season is eggnog. Spane and I love eggnog. I like mine with a little Jack Daniels, Spane likes his plain. If we have any left, I make French Toast with it. Well, it’s July now, and no hope of going to the market and getting eggnog.

What do you do when there is no eggnog at the store? You make your own. Some eggnog tastes strange – last year I wound up giving one I didn’t like to an unsuspecting neighbor – they liked it, so no harm done. Based on what I made today, I’m confident that this Christmas, I’ll be making my own eggnog. I have a friend who raises chickens, and always has fresh eggs – he even has a big orange chicken that I am waiting to get old – I’ve named her Coq au Vin (seriously).

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Kiwi Lime Mini Cupcakes for St. Patrick’s Day

Kiwi Lime Cupcakes

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On one of my recent sojourns to the local grocery store, I found dried kiwi fruit. I immediately thought they would make a great decoration for St. Patrick’s Day cupcakes. When I brought Cheesecake Stuffed Chocolate Dipped Strawberries for my son’s third grade class field trip, one of the girls requested I make cupcakes the next time I brought a treat for the class. So, I’m making mini lime cupcakes with kiwi for Friday since St. Patrick’s day is on Saturday.

I had planned on making these Thursday evening, but decided to do them this morning. Why? Well, let me first say that I love my son’s curiosity and inventiveness. Yesterday, he was tinkering with the alarm clock and mistakenly set the clock ahead four hours. When I got up at what I thought was seven o’clock and drank coffee, it was not until I looked at the cable box that I realized it was only three o’clock. Since I had already had a half a cup of coffee, it was too late to try to go back to sleep, so I’m making cupcakes.

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Powdered Sugar Cookies

Powdered Sugar Cookies Recipe

Glazed painted heart powdered sugar cookies with colored sugar

Glazed painted hearts with colored sugar

When I wanted to make cookies for Spane’s classroom for Valentines Day, I had the cookie bags completed, and just needed to make the cookies. Usually, I use the Rollout Cookie recipe, which calls for 2 cups of granulated sugar. Horror of horrors, I did not have enough granulated sugar! But, I did have a lot of powdered sugar. People will tell you that you cannot make cookies with powdered sugar. Well, I’m here to tell you they are wrong! You can make nice crisp, melt in your mouth sugar cookies with powdered sugar!

I don’t bother making a glaze. I just buy the vanilla cream frosting in a can. Yes, I know, everything fresh, but the canned frosting is perfect for glazing. Mind you, I would never use it to frost a cake!

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