©Life of a Foodie and Her Family 2008-2013, Lynn Tabor



Chili Cookoff

This year Miss V decided that she wanted to sign up for her school's chili cook off again.  Last year she came in second and we were so proud of her.

Instead of getting up at 6 am on Saturday to make it, she decided to make it on Friday afternoon.  She makes her YCA One Alarm Chili, but she likes to season to taste and she ends up adding a bit more chili powder and cumin.  This year I bought her 6 pounds of ground beef.

It smelled wonderful and she let it simmer for a couple hours on Friday night.  When I got up on Saturday I put it back on the stove to warm up and warmed up the crock pot.  It filled the crock pot almost to the point of spilling out.  We transported it to school safely and not a drop was spilled.

Here she is right before the Fun Fest started in front of her chili.

She was so excited!  We talked about what would happen if she didn't win and she said that it would be ok and she would try again next year and that she was doing it for fun. but she really wanted to win so she could put the prize money in her Nintendo DS fund.  She is saving her money to buy her own DS.  I went to check and her crock pot was almost empty!  Right before the votes were counted I peeked again and the crock pot was scraped clean!  That had to be a good sign right?

A little while later the announcement came that they were going to give the results of the chili cook off so we waited and the principal of the school called Victoria's name for first place. She looked at me for a second like she was confused.  Then she busted out with a HUGE grin and ran off to get her blue ribbon!!!

Here she is with her ribbon and her prize money was delivered shortly afterwards.  When we got home the prize money went right into her DS Fund Ziploc baggie.

Way to go Master Chef Victoria!!!!  We are so proud of you!!!


Cupcakes + Marshmallows = yummy cuteness

I was trying to think of something "springy" to talk about in our neighborhood newsletter.  My mind went right to some cupcakes that I made for Victoria's birthday a couple years ago.  She brought these cuties to school to share with her friends.  Of course she wanted a special one that was different from the others.  So I made her a red flower with a white center.

Bake and cool your favorite cupcakes from a box or from scratch.

One can of white frosting, not whipped though!  Tint it with gel food color; Wilton leaf green is perfect.  You can simply frost the cupcakes with an offset spatula or use a piping bag with a fancy tip.

Colored sanding sugar, pastel M&M's or mini marshmallows.

I like to pour some of each color into little Gladware Snack size containers.  It makes it easier to color the petals.

One bag of large marshmallows.  I suggest not going with the store brand.  I really prefer Jet Puffed brand.  They are a little firmer.   You will cut each marshmallow into 5 slices.  It takes extra time, but so worth it if you wash off your knife after each marshmallow with hot water. That way the knife isn't sticky and the marshmallow petals won't have ragged edges.

After you slice your marshmallow into 5 sections carefully press one sticky side into the sanding sugar.  You will leave the opposite side sticky.

Carefully press the petal into the green frosting then continue with the other 4 slices.  Then end slices it is ok press the non-sticky side into the frosting. Place and M&M or mini marshmallow in the center of the cupcake.

Continue until all your cupcakes are decorated.

These are perfect for a little girl's birthday party.  Then I took above idea and made Bunnies for our neighborhood Easter Egg Hunt.


A cupcake (baked from your favorite recipe)
White icing
Shredded coconut
Pink decorators' sugar
Jelly bean nose
Pastel Blue and Green M&M's
Black decorating icing in a tube
Red pull and peel twizzlers
Large marshmallow
Mini marshmallows

Frost a cupcake (baked from your favorite recipe) with white icing and sprinkle on shredded coconut fur.  You can also skip the coconut.  I found that it made a huge mess and most of the kids wiped the coconut off.
Cut a large marshmallow in half width wise. Squeeze each half slightly to give it an oval shape, then decorate the sticky side of each one with pink decorators' sugar and set them in place for ears.

Add a jelly bean nose (I actually cut the jelly bean in half) and the M&M for eyes, and mini marshmallows for cheeks (For the cheeks, I jut one mini marshmallow in half and used one mini marshmallow per Bunny. Using two whole mini marshmallows, well they kept tipping over). For a finishing touch, draw on decorators' gel pupils and small pieces of the pull and peel twizzlers.

Cute huh???



Colette's Apron Cake

And finally for our Ratatouille Dinner and Movie Night, Victoria made Colette's Apron Cake.

1 baked 13x9 inch cake
2 to 2 1/2 cups white frosting
Pale green sour strips or fruit leather
Kids kitchen utensils (wooden spoon or whisk) we skipped that part
Blue decorator's icing

Set the baked cake on a serving platter.  Cut away the upper corners of the cake to form an apron shape.  Frost the cake with the white frosting.  Stick the sour strips into the top of the cake to form the neck strap and into the sides of the cake to form the apron strings.

Stick the kids cooking utensils into the apron in the lower left side of the cake.  Using the blue decorator's icing and a writing tip, outline the shape of the pocket, with the utensils poking out of the top.  Form the pocked with a mound of decorator's icing, smooth it out well, and add a sour strip.  Use the icing to write "what's cooking?" on the apron.  Serves 10 to 12.

Recipe came from Victoria's cookbook, Ratatouille What's Cooking?

Gusteau's Ratatouille (Rat-a-too-ee)

Victoria was so excited to make this for dinner.

1 large eggplant, cubed
1/4 to 1/3 cup olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 red or green pepper chopped
2 to 4 crushed garlic cloves
4 small zucchini, chopped
4 tomatoes, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
Parmesan cheese

Salt the eggplant, drain in a colander for 1 hour, and then pat dry.  Heat half of the olive oil in a large saucepan and briefly saute' the eggplant until brown, then add the onion and pepper.  Next, add the garlic, zucchini and tomatoes.  Cook until a soft stew has formed about 15 to 30 minutes.

Add the salt, pepper and basil.  Sprinkle with cheese and serve.  you can freeze leftovers.  Serves 4.

Gusteau's Tip:  This French Mediterranean stew is meant to be served over rice.

Recipe came from Victoria's cookbook, Ratatouille What's Cooking?

Chef Salad

Saturday night was our Ratatouille dinner and a movie night. Victoria made these Chef's Salad.

2 to 4 eggs
2 slices whole wheat bread
2 tbs butter
3/4 tsp garlic powder
1 head romaine lettuce
1 large carrot
1 medium size cumber
1 red or green pepper
1/2 pound cubed ham or cooked chicken breast
1/4 pound cubed Swiss Cheese

Begin by making the toppings for this chef's salad.  For hard boiled eggs, place two to four eggs in a heavy saucepan and cover with cold water.  Boil for 1 minute, then turn off the heat.  Cover and let sit for 15 minutes in the hot water.  Next drain the hot water and run cold water over the eggs.  Roll each egg gently to crack the shell, then peel.  Rinse well, then slice into four wedges.  For easy peeling, work under a running tap or in a bowl of water.

For garlic croutons, cut two slices of whole wheat bread into sixteen squares each. In a small microwave safe bowl, melt the butter on high (about 40 seconds).  Stir in 1/4 teaspoon of the garlic powder and toss in the bread cubes.  Arrange cubes in a single layer on a baking sheet or toaster oven tray. Broil for 1 to 2 minutes checking frequently to prevent burning.  Turn and brown on the other side.  Transfer to a paper towel to drain and cool.

To prepare the lettuce, cut 1 1/2 inches off the stem end of the romaine head and discard.  Break the leave off and wash in cold water. Place in a salad spinner and spin until dry or pat dry with paper towels.  Break the leaves into bite sized pieces and place in a large salad bowl.

To prepare the vegetables, peel and grate the carrot; wash, peel and slice the cucumber; and wash and cut the pepper into strip with a knife or into shapes with a mini cookie cutter.  Place the ham or chicken, cheese croutons and hard boiled eggs in bowls and serve with dressing.

Next, hand everyone a plate and let them assemble their own salad.  Pour salad dressing over the salad or serve it on the side for dipping.

Serves 4.

Recipe came from Victoria's cookbook, Ratatouille What's Cooking?

Easy Faux Escargot

Saturday night was our Ratatouille dinner and a movie night.  Victoria made these cute little snacks.

Mayonnaise or whipped cream cheese
Large tortilla (square, if available)
lettuce or baby spinach
Sliced deli meat of your choice (ham)
Sliced cheese of your choice (Swiss, but it was thick and hard to roll)
Gherkin pickles

If necessary, trim the rounded edges of the tortilla to make it square, then spread a thin layer of the mayonnaise or cream cheese on top.

Layer on the lettuce or spinach, then meat and cheese roll it up tightly.  (This is where thinner cheese would have worked better).

With the seam on the bottom, slice the tortilla into 2 inch wide pinwheels.  For the heads, cut a pickle in half at an angle.  Poke 2 small holes in the uncut end and stick a piece of chive in each hole for antennae.

Slip each pickle half under the edge of a pinwheel, securing them together with a toothpick if necessary.  Makes 4 to 6 pinwheel sandwiches.

Recipe came from Victoria's cookbook, Ratatouille What's Cooking?


Ratatouille anyone????

Ratatouille anyone????

Miss V has been asking to have a dinner and movie night.  She really wants to make Ratatouille.  With everything that has been going on lately I asked her if she wanted to do it on Saturday but maybe a really late lunch.  YOU BET!  Was her answer.

She ran over to the cookbook case and pulled out her Ratatouille Cookbook.  I told her that she could pick an appetizer, salad, dinner and dessert, but not the dirt cake..LOL

She picked:
Easy Faux Escargots (they are super cute)
Chef's Salad
Gusteau's Ratatouille
Colette's Apron Cake (it was a hard decision between that and Cherry Cheesecakes)

After our haircuts and some errands we are going to do our shopping and cooking!


Edible Confetti

So I mentioned the edible confetti in my earlier post today.  I made the fondant and let it sit for a couple hours.  I just rolled some out and used the #12 Wilton tip to make jumbo size confetti and then played around with other shapes.

I am no longer afraid of fondant!  Now I just need to find some super small alphabet cookie cutters, any ideas where I can find them???

Now they just have to dry over night and then I can store them in a container and put them in my "sprinkle" cabinet.

Marshmallow Fondant or MMF as all the cool kids call it.

So a few weeks ago someone commented on my Flip Flop cake test run and trying to be a good blogger I went to check out their blog calle Cake Whiz.  And what did my eyes see?  An entry on how to make fondant confetti!!!  OMG  I got so excited!  I had been searching for a couple day on where I could find bright color confetti to go along with Miss V's flip flop cake.

My only problem....I am afraid of fondant!  It always tastes disgusting!!!!!!!!  So I read the entry on making marshmallow fondant.  Sometimes I have a problem with my right hand with kneading so then I went searching to see if you could make the fondant in a Kitchen Aid Mixer.  Woo Hoo...gotta love the internet!  I found two tutorial videos on making fondant in a mixer. You can view them on Easy Cake Ideas site.

I have been kicking around the idea and trying to convice myself that I CAN DO THIS!!!!

Today is the day!  I conqured my fear of marshmallow fondant or MMF as all the cool kids call it.

So I came up with the following recipe:

1 (10 oz) bag of mini marshmellows
1 tbs water
1 tbs lemon (or any other kind) extract (make sure the extracts are clear)
3-5 cups confectionary sugar
food coloring gel
vinyl gloves

First thing....use crisco to grease a baking dish, mixing bowl, dough hook and rubber spatula.

Put the marshmellows in the baking dish.

Add the water.

Add the extract

Melt for 1 minute in the microwave.  Stir with the greased rubber spatula and melt for another minute.  In the meantime, sift 3 cups of confectionary sugar into the mixing bowl and make a small well in the middle.  When the marshmellows are done the second time, stir again with the rubber spatula.  Carefully pour the hot marshmellow mixture into the mixing bowl.  Turn on low for about 30 seconds then turn to medium to mix.  I did end up using about another 1 1/2 cups.  Make sure to sift each bit of confectionary sugar.

Mix until no longer sticky.  Then I took out out and kneaded it a bit by hand.  I split it into 4 pieces and used Wilton Rose, Royal Blue, Lemon Yellow, and Orange to color the pieces. 

Lightly grease some plastic wrap and wrap up the sections of fondant and let rest for a couple hours.

They came out nice and bright and very tropically...

I am so proud of myself!!! 

What I am going to make with it will be continued later.

Neely's Short Ribs

Everyone once in a while I like to step out of my cooking comfort zone.  I keep seeing all sorts of recipes for Beef Short Ribs.  I haven't made them before and the other day at Sweet Bay I picked up a couple of pounds.  I looked all over for an easy recipe and came across the Neely's Short Ribs on Food Network.

1/4 cup olive oil, divided
6 pounds beef short ribs (I only had about 4 1/2 pounds)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 large onion, coarsely chopped (I used up half a red onion and halve white onion)
1 carrot, chopped  (I used two small carrots)
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cups dry red wine (I used Cupcake Malbec)
3 cups low-sodium chicken stock
1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes, in thick puree (I used just a can of diced tomatoes)
3 thyme sprigs (I didn't have fresh so I used about 2 tsp of dried)
1 bay leaf
1 orange, zested
1 tablespoon chopped parsley leaves, for garnish (didn't use)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Heat about 2-tablespoons of the olive oil in a large Dutch oven over high heat.

Season the short ribs well with salt and pepper. Over medium heat, brown ribs for 6 minutes on each side. You will need to do this in batches. Remove the browned short ribs to a plate and repeat with remaining ribs and oil.

Add onion, carrots, garlic, celery, and salt and pepper to the Dutch oven and saute until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and wine to the vegetables and cook, stirring, about 1 minute. Add the stock, diced tomatoes, thyme, and bay leaf. Return the browned short ribs and any juices that have accumulated back into the Dutch oven. Add orange zest.

Cover with a heavy lid and place in the oven and braise for 3 hours or until the meat is very tender.
Once the ribs are tender, remove the ribs to a platter. Taste for seasoning. Add salt and pepper, to taste. Serve the short ribs over the stone ground grits, if desired. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley.

I served them with mashed potatoes and steamed green beans.  I should have cut the liquid down a bit.  I did end up reducing the sauce a bit and poured that over the potatoes and beef.   We also had a glass of Cupcake Merlot with it.  Soooo good!!!

This was very very good and is a keeper!

Sharing here:
Melt In Your Mouth Monday # 10


Wild Rice and Ham Chowder

Miss V picked this recipe out from my Taste of Home, Heartwarming Soup magazine from last year.  I did make a few modifications.

1/2 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced (I used 4 small cloves)
1/4 cup butter, cubed (I used unsalted)
6 tbs all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt (I used more after I tasted it a couple times)
1/4 tsp black pepper (again I used more after tasting)
4 cups chicken broth (I used a box of Kitchen Basic Stock)
1 1/2 cups cubed peeled potatoes (I used 3 large russet and it was more than a cup and half)
1/2 cup chopped carrot (I used 2 large carrots and it was more than 1/2 cup)
1 bay leaf (I used two dried)
1/2 tsp dried thyme (I used a bit more, after tasting and I used dried leaves not ground)
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg (I used fresh nutmeg)
3 cups cooked wild rice (I used a mix of long grain and wild, it came preseasoned which I didn't notice when I bought it.  So I shook it through a fine mesh strainer)
2 1/2 cups cubed fully cooked ham (I used a 16 oz package of cubed ham)
2 cups half and half
1 can (15 1/4 oz) whole kernel corn, drained (I used about 3 cups frozen corn, thawed)
(Since I used more veggies, I did end up by adding a couple cups of water)

In a dutch oven saute onion and garlic in the butter until they are tender.  Add the flour, salt and pepper until combined.  Add in the stock.  Bring to a boil.  Cook and stir for two minutes until thick and bubbly.

Add the potatoes, carrots, bay leaves, thyme and nutmeg.  Return to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes or until the potato and carrot are fork tender.  Stir in the rice, ham and corn.  This is where I saw that it was way to thick so I added about two cups of water. Then added the half and half.  Heat through, but DO NOT BOIL!

The original recipe states that it yields 8-10 servings.  Mine easily made 12 -15 servings.  I like making enough so that my husband and Miss V could have some for lunches the next day and even have it for dinner tonight.

I served it with crusty bread.


Flip Flop Cake - Test Run

This morning I decided to have a test run of a flip flop cakes.  I used a cake mix and baked it in a 13x9 pan and let it cool.  Next came the weird part.  I used a template from the Betty Crocker site and if you see the pictures, you can see the problem I had.

Something doesn't look like it would match up.  I tried, but frustrated and decided to trace a pair of my flip flops on paper.

Those look much better!

You tell me what shapes look better....

Cake is cooled and leveled off a bit.

Flip Flops...cut out then chilled in the freezer for one hour, that is really important!!

Crumb coated with white frosting.  Then chilled in the freezer for one hour, that is really important, don't skip that part!

Next I used a can and half of white frosting and tinted it green, eh..not to fond of it.  I need something brighter.

Then I used two blue Twizzlers.  I cut about 1 inch off the end.  Then cut up 3/4 the way up with craft scissors and inserted it to make the straps.

Then used Wilton Confetti to decorate.

Colored Twizzlers.....Whew...the blue one is strong tasting....Not my kind of flavor...LOL

It is now cooling in the freezer until Miss V gets home!

Edited to add:  She loved it! I do want to change the color of the flip flop since I learned how to make edible confetti.  I think I am going to use more tropical colors.  Not to bad for a trial run.

Has anyone used Americolor gels in the bottle?  If so is it easier than the Wilton tubs of gel color?

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