Hi Everybody! I really hope you are all staying healthy and sane during this crazy COVID time. It’s definitely been an experience that will be told to our future generations.
It’s been awhile since I posted anything on this blog. I’ve been really busy with among many other things my blog Minnesota Cottage Food Law. We set up, as far as I know, the only Cottage Food Producers Association in the United States, so that’s been exciting. We spent a lot of time trying to get some laws amended this legislative session but because of the virus that was put on hold.
I have also recently set up a blog for my sister-in-law. She owns a beautiful restaurant called Izgara, with her husband and one of our nephews in Florida. I’ve written about it before. She also gives cooking classes and likes to share the things she makes. You can check it out here: Izgara Mediterranean Cuisine.
With all of the time we have had to stay home I did a lot of baking and experimenting with new recipe ideas and the latest fads. One of these fads is called, Magic Coffee. I am a self-confessed coffeeholic so I had no trouble joining this fad. First, I tried a simple recipe with ice coffee from Pinterest. It was pretty good. But then my daughter sent me this video, Magic Coffee Whipped Cream from Emmymade. I made it and it is total coffee heaven.
According to Emmy’s video you have to use coffee crystals. Luckily, I happened to have some. 😊 You put about 1/3 cup of coffee and 1 cup of sugar in your mixing bowl. Pour in about ¾ cup of icy cold water. Give it a stir, then slowly start whipping it with your mixer. It takes about 3 minutes to make a beautiful looking whipped cream. I then heaped a good portion of this amazing concoction on top of a lovely brownie cake. Let me tell you, this combination of brownie with whipped coffee is literally the richest dessert I have made in a long time. Then we added a little vanilla ice cream, it was perfection.
In the spirit of experimenting we waited to see how long the topping would hold its shape on top of the brownie. After about 4 hours the coffee had begun separating from the whipped foam and seeping through the brownie. The conclusion was that although this is a fabulous dessert, it should be served soon after making it. I had toyed with the idea of making it to sell but that’s probably not going to happen.
We put the remainder of the whipped coffee in the refrigerator overnight to see how it would hold up. At first glance it looked pretty good but once you moved the you layer with your spoon you could see that the coffee had separated a bit from the top. However, after re-whipping the coffee cream it was as good as new.
So, I decided to try to make a hot beverage with it. I heated up a cup of milk and then I heaped some of the whipped coffee on top of the milk. It looked beautiful, but it wasn’t the ideal way to drink this. Then I tried putting the whipped coffee into the cup first and then adding the hot milk. It wasn’t as beautiful but it tasted much better. If you are a fan of sweet milky coffee you will love this.
All in all, it was great fun to experiment with and I will definitely be using this recipe and making the brownie dessert again. I think I’ll name it the Double Threat Dessert.
I’m tired. I’m so mentally tired of all of the negativity in this world. People fighting and arguing and treating each other like crap. Fighting about politics, the other side is always righter than the other. The president, every president that ever was, is to blame for everything. It doesn’t matter which president, or how hard he tried, there’s always somebody somewhere blaming him for everything. The teachers are to blame, the preachers are to blame, the parents are to blame, the rich people are to blame, the poor people are to blame, and on and on and on. Fighting about religion and beliefs. Fighting about guns or not guns. Fighting about who is wrong and who is right. I’m so sick of it all.
History shows it’s always been the same. Do you know why? Because people are always the same. Child and domestic abuse have been around since the beginning of time. Murders, thieving, every single horrible thing that human beings are doing to each other today has always existed. Plagues, illnesses, hunger, homelessness, it’s always been here.
It’s not EVER going to change until people realize this and stop blaming each other. It’s not EVER going to change until every single person just stops; looks inside of themselves, and chooses love, chooses forgiveness, chooses to be positive, chooses some common sense. Until then, I don’t care what political party, religion, race, gender, nationality, or anything else you are…nothing WILL EVER change.
Everyone is always going on and on about John Lennon’s song, everyone in the world living as one. Here’s an idea, maybe start with loving your neighbors and just the people in your little corner of the world. Maybe stop singing it, and start doing it.
It’s already Fall you all and it’s a good thing I don’t survive on this blogging stuff because I am very inadequate at it. I think my last blog was in the summer. Anyway, I have a new cupcake flavor that my daughter and I came up with and I had to share it with you. It’s really yummy! But first I have to give you a little background history.
I have a super awesome sister-in-law who lives in Israel and she set up one of those gift box subscriptions for us from a company called Lev Haolam. Every month we get a box with about 7 to 8 items that are produced by companies in Israel. The products in each box are different every month, and include things like honey, chocolate, tea, wine, oils, spices, cosmetics, jewelry, and lots of other stuff. It’s so neat! If you’d like to learn more about it just click the link for: Lev Haolam
One of the items we recently received was a bottle of Pistachio Chocolate Liqueur. It’s some seriously good stuff! Of course my mind always heads to the sweets department and the first question is, “How can I incorporate this into something entirely different?” To make a long story a little shorter, after mulling it over with my culinary sidekick, we decided on dark chocolate cupcakes, filled with a pistachio chocolate liqueur cream, and topped with whipped ganache and a sprinkle of pistachios. It’s super rich and really delicious!
How to make my Pistachio Chocolate Cupcakes
The first thing you need to do is find some pistachio chocolate liqueur. Total Wine carries a huge selection of items from different countries so this would be a good place to look, or you may have to order it online.
The next thing you want to do is make your ganache. This needs to sit in the refrigerator for about 3 hours before you use it, so be sure to take that into consideration. I have tried many different recipes for ganache over the years. The easiest, most fool proof recipe I have found is on a blog titled The Welch Cupcakery. Click here for the recipe: Easy Chocolate Ganache
Then bake up your favorite rich dark chocolate cupcake recipe. Hershey’s has one I like, click here for the recipe: “Especially Dark” Chocolate Cake
While your cupcakes are baking and cooling, mix up your pistachio chocolate filling. This needs to be done in two steps. First you make a paste by bringing 1/4 cup milk and 1/4 cup pistachio chocolate liqueur to a soft boil. Stir in 1/4 cup of flour and keep stirring until it makes, I’m not going to lie, a really icky looking paste. Put that in the refrigerator, I sometimes use the freezer, until it cools. Second step; place the paste in a mixing bowl, add one stick of soft margarine to the cooled paste, mix it good. Then mix in 4 cups of powdered sugar until nice and fluffy. Add more liqueur to taste, but not too much or your filling will become runny. Use this to fill the center of each cupcake.
Take your ganache out of the refrigerator and place it in your mixer. Then mix for just a few minutes until it’s nice and fluffy. Frost your cupcakes and then sprinkle with some chopped pistachios. Enjoy!
Besides the obvious eating of our creations, another thing we have great fun doing with treats is staging and photographing them. We took this photo shoot in honor of the spooky month of October. Until next time, have a great Fall!
It’s finally warm in Minnesota! I didn’t think we were ever going to warm up here. It’s been so nice to sit outside and enjoy the sunshine.
Apparently Pinterest is in summer mode also because I have been seeing a lot of suggestions for summer cocktails. Reading the recipes made me think that it would be fun to make cocktail inspired cupcakes so, that’s what my daughter and I did today.
Below you can find the how-to’s of the three cocktail inspired cupcakes we created. They are all alcohol free and kid friendly. 🙂
For all three cupcakes I began with a simple yellow cake recipe but added a good full tablespoon of rum extract to the batter. I doubled my recipe which gave me enough batter for 4 dozen cupcakes. I then divided the batter into three different bowls.
Island Breeze Cupcakes
This cupcake was so good! Take one of the bowls of batter and stir in about 2 teaspoons of coconut extract to it. Place batter in paper lined cupcake tins. Bake as you usually would. Cool completely.
For the filling I sliced three peaches, placed it in a sauce pan with about two tablespoons of sugar. Cook on low, stirring occasionally so the peaches don’t stick to the pan. When the peaches are soft, stir in 1/2 tablespoon of potato flour or cornstarch to thicken. Cook about 2 or 3 minutes more. Place the peaches in a food processor with 1/2 cup of canned pineapple chunks. Process only until smooth. Fill your cooled cupcakes.
Frosting: As with the batter I made a double batch of my favorite Wilton Buttercream recipe. I divided it into three bowls. For the Island Breeze frosting I added about three tablespoons of pineapple juice. Frost the filled cupcakes and then garnish with coconut flakes. Enjoy!
Mango Sunrise Cupcakes
This batter I baked with just the rum flavor. For the filling I had a mango peach preserve that we put in my little food processor to make smooth. This bowl of frosting was tinted neon pink with two teaspoons of orange extract stirred into it. We then frosted the filled cupcakes and sprinkled them with gold flakes for a golden sunrise. 🙂
Blueberry Freeze Cupcakes
My favorite of the three! To the batter we stirred in about two teaspoons of orange extract and about 1 heaping tablespoon of orange zest. After the cupcakes were baked and cooled we filled them with blueberry pie filling put through the food processor as we did with the other fillings. We tinted half of the frosting pink and the other half orange, to make a swirled frosting. We garnished the cupcakes with a slice of orange. So good!
Have a great summer!
If you are looking for a quick and easy chicken dinner here’s a good one for you. I made it up a few days ago with items I found in the cupboard. It turned out really good and my hubby even took the leftovers for lunch the next day. Fair warning, I still cook like my house is full of people so this makes quite a lot. You might want to half it, or just enjoy the leftovers. 🙂
You will need:
5 – 6 chicken breast halves (I used one of those bags of frozen chicken from Coborns.)
1/8 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
2 cans diced tomatoes
1 can tomato sauce
1 can black beans (drained and rinsed)
14 oz. chicken broth
1/2 chopped onion
1 cup chopped sweet peppers
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 tsp. chili powder
2 tsp. garlic powder
1 heaping Tblsp. cumin
3 pkgs. quinoa and brown rice (Or you can use about 3 cups instant rice.)
Heat oil in a dutch oven or a deep skillet. Add the chicken, sprinkle with some salt and pepper. Cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes. Turn the chicken over and cook for 5 more minutes. Take the chicken out and place it on a plate to rest.
Stir the onion and sweet peppers into the remaining oil in the pot. Cook for a few minutes. Add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, black beans, broth and spices. Let it simmer about 5 minutes.
Stir in the quinoa and brown rice, (or instant rice). Slice the chicken and add this to the rice mixture. Cook for another 5 minutes or until the chicken and rice are totally done.
Goes great with a green salad. Enjoy!
Lately it seems like everyone has to identify themselves in one category or another. There’s one movement after another, one cause after another. It feels like we are being forced to pick a label and conform to a certain stereotype within these labels.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot and I have come to the conclusion that people are not just labels and should never be labeled. People are so much more complex and amazing than a label.
So I thought about it, if I were to label myself, which label would I be? I don’t want to be labeled as just a “woman”, I really don’t like the way a lot of women act. I don’t want to be labeled as a “mother”, even though being a mother and grandmother is one of my chief joys in life, this is not all of who I am. Christian? Well, not really. My beliefs are way more than that of a stereotypical Christian and besides, most Christians aren’t very Christ like. American? I am and proud of it but I am also an Israeli, and proud of that. I am more than just a wife, general consultant, baker, lobbyist, and even though these are many things I do, they are not who I am.
I could go on and on but the point is that we are more than just labels and shouldn’t be placed in a category. If we all saw each other for who we really are as individual unique beings, rather than the labels we place on each other, we would all be so much more tolerant of each other and the world would be a much nicer place.
When I look at someone I see more than just a label. I am so much more than just a label. I am me.
A long time ago, about 2,500 years ago, there was a really bad guy named Haman. He was the adviser to the King of Persia. As with many politicians the advise Haman gave the King was mostly for his own personal gain and he would manipulate the King into getting things to work his way.
One day Haman got mad at a Jewish man named Mordecai sitting by the palace gate because Haman didn’t feel that Mordecai was respectful enough to him. So he talked the King into signing a contract saying that all of the Jews in Persia should be killed and he drew lots to decide what day the massacre would happen. That’s where the word Purim comes from.
What Haman didn’t know was that the King’s beautiful wife, Queen Esther, was not only Jewish but also Mordecai’s cousin. She talked to her husband and asked him why he wanted to kill her people and the King was pretty mad when he realized Haman had tricked him. In the end Haman and his sons were hanged and the decree to kill the Jews of Persia was cancelled. The people rejoiced and celebrated their deliverance. You can read the whole story in the book of Esther in the Bible.
When my children were young they had so much fun celebrating Purim in Israel. They would dress up in costumes, eat lots of Purim cookies called Hamantaschen (Haman’s Pocket) in Yiddish or in Israel we called them Oznei Haman (Haman’s Ears). They would make gifts called Mishloach Manot filled with cookies, chocolate, candy and nuts and give them to their friends. They had parades and walked around with noise makers in case anyone said the name Haman.
As with most holidays the food is the best part and Purim is no different. Even though my kids are adults now they still wait all year for me to make Oznei Haman, the traditional Purim Cookie. In Israel the cookies are usually filled with strawberry jelly, chocolate, poppy seed or date fillings. I always make some of those but I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t endeavor to change things up a bit. This year my daughter Dani and I decided to see how a candy filled center would be. We used Mini Snickers, Reese’s Eggs, and Ferrero Rocher chocolates. We also made some filled with Blackberry Cardamom jam, and a Raspberry Cocoa Cinnamon concoction made from Raspberry pie filling. We always have to make some with Nutella and Poppy Seed fillings. In all we had 8 different flavors and all of them had to be taste tested. We didn’t eat lunch that day. 🙂
A few days later my daughter Rivka and grand-daughter came over and we made some more Oznei Haman. These were mostly Nutella filled and I also made some raspberry filled dipped in chocolate with green and white sprinkles in honor of St. Patrick’s day.
Ingredients for Oznei Haman
5 cups all purpose flour
4 tsp. baking powder
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 cup oil
1 Tbsp. rum extract
Fillings: Nutella, favorite jams, poppy seed filling, date filling or whatever your imagination comes up with. 🙂
Step 1: In the bowl of your mixer beat the eggs until they are lemon colored. This may take a few minutes but you want to be patient until the egg looks like a fluffy lemony cloud.
Step 2: Beat in the sugar, oil and rum extract.
Step 3: If you have a paddle attachment for your mixer, now is the time to switch to it. Stir in 4 to 4 1/2 cups of flour until well combined and a soft ball forms. (If you don’t have a paddle attachment use a wooden spoon and stir in the flour until a soft ball forms.)
Step 4: Lay a piece of parchment paper on your counter and place the ball of dough in the center of it. I then fold the paper around it and place it in a Ziploc bag. Chill for at least 3 hours or overnight.
Step 5: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Roll out on a lightly floured counter about 1/4″ thick. Use a glass to cut rounds. We like larger cookies so I use a glass with about 3 1/2″ diameter. Place 2 heaping teaspoons of your filling in the center of each circle. Pull up the side and pinch into 3 corners to shape the cookies leaving the centers exposed. You make have to brush the inside edges of the dough with water to make it stay in place.
Step 6: Place the cookies on parchment lined cookie sheets and bake about 25-30 minutes until a light golden brown. Cool on a wire rack. I often sprinkle mine with powdered sugar or when cool drizzle with chocolate. Enjoy!
Can you believe it’s March 11th? It’s almost spring and I haven’t blogged anything in ages. I think it’s time to share with you some of the things we created last year, before this year is finished!
2018 was very full of election campaign duties, (sadly our guy lost); birthdays, (my 55th among them); baby showers, bridal showers, many visits from family & friends and of course the holidays. In the midst of all the excitement of living my crazy busy life I find my quiet place in the kitchen, coming up with new flavors and ideas brings me peace and sometimes a few more calories to the waistline. 🙂 Luckily I have a huge group of people who appreciate being my taste-testers. Have a great 2019!
If you would like to order one of my 2019 calendars just send me a message on my Facebook page, Sweet Eats by Shelley. I have a few of them left.
For information about purchasing one of my cakes and other baked goods please check out my website: Sweet Eats by Shelley
For most of my life I was never really interested in politics. Growing up I watched politicians come and go and came to the conclusion that if you were in politics you were probably a power hungry person, willing to say anything to be elected and then promptly forgetting everything that you’d promised to the very people who had voted you in. I had adopted that self-righteous indignation a lot of people who sit on the sidelines have, complaining about their politicians, but never really doing anything about it because, well, that’s just the way it is, right?
My husband always told me that it was important to be involved in politics because it takes everyone to make a difference. I’d tell him fine, you go make a difference. That was until the day I was personally inconvenienced by the laws that some politicians had decided to pass. Yes, it’s pretty sad. We’re all sideline politicians until something directly impacts us and we can no longer sit back and criticize. It’s a shame that unless something touches us directly, we really don’t care.
That was the day a phone call to the Department of Health made me aware that it was illegal for me to sell the cakes and cookies that I loved to bake and share with others from my home. I never knew that such a law existed. People did it all the time. We were all breaking the law. I called my husband and he said, “Well, you’re not going to like it but now is the time for you to take action and change the law.” I said, “Okay, how do I do that?” He said that I had to write letters, get supporters, and work to get the law changed. It would take time and patience but if enough people were involved, sooner or later, we’d get it done.
In the summer of 2011 I began my campaign. I wrote letters to everybody I could think of. I did a lot of research. Found and teamed up with a lady who had already begun a Facebook page and petition to get the law amended. Then I met Jim Newberger.
Jim was a young medic who had seen firsthand while traveling overseas the effects communism and socialism can have on a country. He was determined that, as long as he was able, he would fight to insure that such a fate didn’t happen to his own country.
Jim started his journey by first running for Representative of District 15B. My husband had met him and was impressed by his kind spirit and passion for Minnesota and joined his campaign team. My husband told Jim about my Cottage Food struggle and he promised that if he was elected he would help to get the bill amended.
From the day he was elected, no matter how busy Rep. Jim Newberger was with everything else, he never forgot his promise. He kept pressing forward, even when I was giving up. Finally in 2015, with bipartisan support from Senator Dibble our bill was passed and we were legally allowed to sell cottage foods from our homes, farmer’s markets, and at other community events.
I don’t believe in big party politics, I don’t believe in big religious organizations, I don’t believe the majority is always right, but I do believe in good people, I believe in compassion and I believe in honesty.
I don’t know Mrs. Klobuchar personally. Maybe she really is a nice person, maybe not, but when I look at what she’s voted for and against, I don’t believe in her. When I hear the things she says and the promises she doesn’t keep, I don’t believe in her.
I do know Jim Newberger personally. I know that he has always listened to his constituents and voted accordingly, even when it made his fellow legislatures mad. I know when he becomes Senator that he will do everything in his power to listen to and help the people of Minnesota and I know he won’t back down. I know this because he did it for me and every other person in Minnesota that can now legally call themselves a Cottage Food Producer.
If we want changes in our government we have to get off of our couches and vote. We can’t be sideline critics. We have to vote for good people who really care.
Early voting begins in Minnesota on September 21st, 2018. Just go down to your government center, no long waits or lines, and vote. It’s that easy.
I’ll be there, and I will be voting for Jim Newberger for US Senate.