Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Satisfying my sweet tooth...

Losing weight - not easy when you are a caterer and cake designer, and when you love to eat as much as I do. My real downfall is desserts. I have a real sweet tooth. So... I am trying to come up with some low calorie, low points desserts that won't blow my Weight Watchers program. On Monday nights, we meet together with our empty nesters group to have gospel discussions and activities - more lovingly known as FHE or Family Home Evening. We take turns having our group at different homes, and whoever has the lesson that night also supplies the dessert. I have been trying hard to come up with delicious yet calorie conscious desserts. Last night was a hit... Peach filled meringue shells. Yum! We're still eating fresh peaches from Palisade, so this was a tasty way to use some of those. 


Peach Filled Meringue Shells

Meringue Shells

3 egg whites
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. almond extract

In a grease-free bowl, add egg whites, cream of tartar and flavorings. Bring to room temperature. (Egg whites will whip higher.) Whip until soft peaks form and then add sugar, 1 T. at a time. Continue to whip until glossy stiff peaks form. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Drop 8 mounds onto baking sheet and with back of spoon, form into 3 inch round cups. (If you want to make them fancy with a decorating bag, use a large star tip and pipe out 8 3-inch circles. Then pipe a double circle around each to form a wall.) Bake at 225 degrees for about 1 1/2 hours. Turn off the oven, and let cool in the oven without opening the door for 1 hour. When they are done, they should sound hollow when you tap on the bottom and peel easily off the parchment.

Filling

4 or 5 fresh peaches, cut in small slices
(you can remove the skins if desired)
Small amount of agave nectar or honey (to taste)
Lite Cool Whip (or real whipped cream if you don't care about the calories)
Cinnamon and toasted sliced almonds (for garnish)

To assemble, put meringue shell on plate, spread small amount of cool whip inside each shell, add desired amount of peaches. Put a dollop of Cool Whip on top. Sprinkle with a little cinnamon and add a few toasted almond slices. 

Makes 8 servings. 3 WW points+ per serving. 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Remembering Black Forest...

On June 11, 2013, I was in California visiting with my son and his family. That night as I was checking the latest  Facebook news feed on my iphone, I was devastated to learn that a large area of Black Forest, only a few miles drive from our home, was up in flames. It was so hard to know that this was happening to our area again.  People were still recovering from the Waldo Canyon fire from the previous summer. We knew people who lived in Black Forest or close by and we were praying that the fire was not reaching them. After the fire was finally contained, over 500 homes were lost and 2 people had died. It was the worst fire in Colorado history. 

Many people who lost their homes are now in the process of rebuilding. Last Saturday, we had the privilege of working with a great couple, Fran and Larry Rutherford, who had just moved into their newly rebuilt home the week before. We catered a lunch for their house "cooling" party. They wanted to have a party to thank all those who had helped and supported them in the rebuilding process. During that time, they had lived with family members, friends, and in hotels. They had on display pictures of their old home, pictures of what was left after the fire (basically nothing), and then pictures of the new home. They have tried to make the new home as much like the old home as possible. They did add a few extra square feet, but other than that, it's the same. I shot a picture of the two of them in front of the house just before we left.

We set up our buffet table in the garage, and the guests ate under a canopy out in the bare field where beautiful trees used to be. We served a taco bar, pasta bar, and cakes for dessert. Of course, one of our cakes had to be a Black Forest cake, in honor of where we were. It was my first attempt at making one... a huge hit... beautiful presentation and tasted magnificent. Immediately offered it on my list of specialty cakes. 

All of the guests were very gracious and kind, and we were honored to be able to be a part of this special celebration. Thanks Fran and Larry. Best wishes to you in your new home!






Thursday, July 24, 2014

Making edible lace and fabric...

If you are a regular follower of my blog, you will know that I have used an edible lace product called Sugarveil to make my lace pieces, and flags for my military cakes. Suguarveil is a fine product, but my biggest problem with it is the fact that it takes forever to set up and then it becomes brittle with time. You have a window of time that you need to work with it, or it is no longer flexible. Problem solved... I have found 2 new products that I like better because the lace stays flexible for a very long time after you have made it, and with my busy schedule, that's what I needed.
 Cake Lace by Claire Bowman... product is made is UK
Sugar Dress by Martellato... product is made in Italy

Both products are available here in the US. through Amazon, Global Sugar Art, and Etsy.

 Mixing it is a 2-part process. First, you combine a powder with a little water and beat according to directions, and then you add a small amount of a liquid and continue beating until peaks form. The liquid is what keeps the lace flexible. 

After you have finished whipping it up, you can spread it into a lace mat or spread it out on the back of a lace mat or onto a silicone baking mat and use it as a piece of fabric. The edible fabric is what I use to make my flags for my Air Force cakes. After you have made your lace pieces or have combined fabric pieces to make a flag, you can fold up your pieces and store them in a zip-lock bag until you're ready to use them. The pieces stay flexible and do not stick to each other... literally like working with fabric. 



Many different lace mats are available. They are quite pricey, but the finished product is incredible. Here are some of the lace mats that I have.



Here are a couple of great videos to show how the whole process works...

Sugar Dress

Cake Lace

Here are some of the cakes I have done with edible lace products...









Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A Watermelon or a Cake? How about both!



















For my birthday this year, I wanted to keep on track with healthy eating, and definitely wanted to get away from the traditional cakes that I'm around most of my life, so I tried this new idea... a no-bake watermelon cake that I found online. Hubby wasn't too excited, but I LOVED it, and, after all, it was MY birthday, not his. :) 

After I posted a picture on Facebook, several of my friends requested the recipe, so here is the link. A special thank you to Jennifer Garza for posting this. 

To ice it, you can use real whipped cream, Cool-whip, or my favorite... coconut whipped cream. 
Here is the recipe for the coconut whipped cream... needs little or no sweetener. Yummy!


Enjoy!!!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Off we go into the wild blue yonder...

It's that time again... USAFA graduation time. I think this year there were 990 + cadets that graduated and became 2nd Lieutenants in the United State Air Force. A proud time indeed for the graduates and their families. I have only had the privilege and opportunity once to attend an Air Force Academy graduation, and it was amazing! Of course, my favorite part was the hat toss at the end and then watching the Thunderbirds fly over. Last year because of budget cuts, they cut the flyover... very disappointing. I was glad to see that this year they were back! Residing here in Colorado Springs, I always end up designing several AF cakes throughout the year for promotions and retirements, but at this time of year, I especially enjoy designing cakes for the new 2nd Lieutenants. When I originally started designing these cakes, everything was done with patterns pressed into the icing and filled with buttercream. The details became so much more precise and clean when I got my Cricut Electric cutter. But now... oh my gosh... with my new Zing electric cutter, I can cut out so much better details, especially with the lettering, than I ever have before. Thank you Klik-n-Kut for a great piece of equipment! And congratulations to all of the 2014 USAFA graduates!



One of the first AF seal cakes that I designed-all in buttercream... not bad, but not as precise and clean as this..
I use Tappits to cut out the letters outside of the seal.
Again, before cutter-nice, but not as precise as this...

One more... AF bars in buttercream...
AF bars in gumpaste with cutter
My Zing cutter makes it all possible. I LOVE my Zing!

Some of my other favorite AF cakes...

AF flag cake... one of my most popular retirement cakes
These are the planes he piloted... all edible images
USAFA Chapel for retiring chaplain









Saturday, May 3, 2014

Pretty in Pink

I was asked by a friend to design a cake for a baby shower today. The mom-to-be loves lace and pearls and of course, lots of pink since she is having a girl. Pale pink fondant with lace and pearls... yeah, I can do that. I was excited to use my new "Sugar Dress" product for making the lace. Wow... so much easier than "Sugar Veil." That's the subject of another blog post. I brushed the fondant pearls with plenty of pearl dust so they looked like real pearls, and then placed on some beautiful gumpaste flowers along with a shimmery bow. . . very pretty. I'm still practicing making gumpaste flowers, but each one turns out a little better. When I started decorating cakes 37 years ago, I learned how to decorate everything with buttercream and royal icing, including flowers. So, this old gal is learning new techniques everyday with fondant and gumpaste. I'm actually having fun with it too. 



Saturday, April 12, 2014

Tender moist juicy chicken... every time!



I know that most of my posts are about sweets, but once in awhile I'll post something about a wonderful savory item... this is for those of you who want a simple chicken recipe without all the fuss. It's quick, easy, and flavorful, and part of a nice meal if you are watching the calories, like I am. 

Easy Moist Chicken Breasts

2-4 chicken breasts (I like the Kirkland brand from Costco)
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup flour
Seasonings (I like thyme and garlic rosemary seasoning)
2-3 tsp. olive oil

Pound your chicken breasts to a nice even thickness. Sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper. You will need some type of saute pan with a tight lid. Heat the pan on medium high heat. Combine the flour and seasonings in a zip lock bag. Add the olive oil to the pan. Lightly dredge the chicken breasts in the flour and add to the heated pan with oil. Saute chicken for 1-2 minutes, until nicely golden brown. Turn the chicken over, put the lid on the pan, and turn down the temperature to low. Set your timer for 10 minutes. DO NOT PEEK! When the timer goes off, turn off the temperature, and set the timer for another 10 minutes. Again, DO NOT PEEK! This time, when the timer goes off, open the lid and see your chicken breasts cooked to perfection. Yum!