This year the 4th of July is a little different for me. We didn’t have the big family barbecue. No picnic, boating or fireworks. Today I went to Princeton, Minnesota to see The Vietnam Veterans Memorial – The Moving Wall. I have always wanted to visit the wall. It holds deep meaning for me as it was a large part of my childhood, indeed it has impacted my entire life.
My father went to Vietnam when I was five years old. I was old enough to understand that he was gone to fight in a war far away. That he flew in helicopters to help the sick and wounded soldiers. Old enough to know that he was gone, and that he might not ever come home. But I was one of the lucky ones. My daddy came home.
I was too young then to hear about all the anti-war media reports or to even know that a lot of people didn’t think our soldiers were the heroes I knew they were. I’m sure my mom kept that from us. But as I grew older I began to hear more. To see the way the vets were treated and to hear the media reports. They didn’t have a clue to the reality. They didn’t even care or understand that so many lives were being ruined by their false rhetoric. They didn’t care that my friend didn’t even know if her dad was dead or alive. He was MIA, Missing In Action. I will always wonder if he came home to his little girl.
Today I was honored to stand in front of The Moving Wall surrounded by many of the Mille Lacs County Vietnam Vets. I heard a true patriot and Vietnam Vet named Tom Newman tell about his time there. He was there in 1968, about the same time my dad was there. He spoke of how Hollywood sensationalized the war, about how the media didn’t bother to tell the truth and how the newspapers gave only parts of the story for maximum effect. He wasn’t telling us a story. He was just telling us how it was.
My father never really liked to talk about the war or his experiences with us, and I understand that. I only know a few of the things that happened to him. So it was good to hear Mr. Newman talk about what really happened. But even better was to understand why it happened. Our soldiers did not fight in vain. If you really want to understand Vietnam, forget the movies and all the other fictional stuff. Talk to a real live Vietnam Vet.
I left the fairgrounds with a renewed sense of faith in the future of this country as I watched a young boy, about 14 years old walk among the crowd. He went from one Vet to another, shaking their hands and thanking them for their service. I was touched by how many people were there. I was moved to tears as each solider was finally, after fifty long years finally honored with an official welcome home handshake and tribute for their service. I left with renewed determination to do my part to never let communism and socialism destroy this wonderful country where, whatever faults it may have, we are still free.
Senator Andrew Matthews’s beautiful words touched my heart as he spoke, “Jesus said that there is no greater sacrifice than for a man to lay down his life for his brother. Behind me stands a wall filled with the greatest love.”
I couldn’t sleep last night. My mind just kept going around and around. The 2018 Legislative session is about to get going and I’m still working to better my Cottage Food Law bill. Of course one thought led to another and I started to think about the upcoming precinct caucuses which will be taking place on February 6th and how important they are to us as a people.
There was a time that I didn’t want anything to do with politics. I wrote about that journey in my blog We the People. I never realized until I really wanted something to change how the process works. Now that I know and have been involved in the political system for a while now, it makes me even more upset to see how little our people really understand about the power they hold.
It is We the People who vote our representatives into place. It begins at the caucuses and what happens there has a direct impact on our everyday lives. How many of us even know what our representatives vote for in session? Do you just vote the person you like best into a position and then go on your merry way thinking this is enough? Do you just vote for someone because of the party they are affiliated with but never really have knowledge of what this person stands for? This is a very dangerous thing to do.
Until I got involved I never knew how often our representatives just vote down party lines and never even read the bills they are presented with. I never realized how often representatives will say what you want to hear and then vote for what they think is best for you. Because they are in the government they suddenly think they know what’s best for their constituents, never hearing what the constituents, who elected them, really want.
Do you know what your representatives vote for and why? Do you know that our tax dollars get thrown around these committees like it’s their weekly allowance with never a thought to what We the People need or want? I do. I’ve sat in their committee meetings. I’ve seen firsthand how they become judge and jury. I’ve seen the games they play and quite frankly where my tax dollars are going makes me really angry. It should make you angry too.
When a representative can swear to watch over the interests of We the People, and then give our tax dollars to immigrants for free housing, vacations, etc. and there are still so many homeless people on our streets, this State is not spending our tax dollars correctly.
When an immigrant can get totally free health care but my friend, a born and bred Minnesota gal who has served her country can’t even get help with her kidney medication; there are big problems in this State.
And before you call me racist which seems to be the answer to every political agenda that someone disagrees with these days, really honestly think about it. And before you point fingers at this party or that party, believe me they all do it. That’s your money. These representatives are supposed to work for you. Can you really say this is happening?
All I want is for our representatives, all of the representatives, to remember who they work for and take care of ALL the people of Minnesota. This will not happen until We the People wake up, attend the caucuses, and vote for the representatives who are going to quit playing the political games and really hear and stand for their constituents.
To find your caucus area you can click this link, 2018 Caucus Locations
Please educate yourself, listen to the candidates and really become a part of your community. Don’t just listen to what these people are saying but check out their actions.
You can see what your Legislature is voting for and discussing every day. They have alerts from the Session Daily news, a Facebook page, Twitter & Youtube videos of their committee meetings. The Minnesota State Legislative website has even more information there about your Senators and House Representatives.
I challenge you to find out exactly what your representatives are doing and if you really are happy with how they are working for you. Because at the end of the day We the People are responsible for what we stand by and let happen.
Recently I took my granddaughter to the newly opened Mills Fleet Farm in our neighboring town. They had just put out the Halloween candy so she decided we needed to bake cupcakes with gummy worms. We spent a few days discussing how these amazing cupcakes should look. She takes her cake designs very seriously. She already has a very elaborate idea in mind for her birthday cake, which is still over a month away. I’ll be sure to show you when the time comes. By the way, I also have a my own baking business called Sweet Eats By Shelley. You can follow me on Facebook or check out my WordPress website, Sweet Eats By Shelley.
Anyway, we finally had time to bake our cupcakes this weekend. We baked my favorite chocolate cupcake recipe, and then frosted them with Chocolate Marshmallow Buttercream. I love Amanda from “I Am Baker” and I follow her on Facebook. Her videos are a delight to watch and she always has fun ideas. I saw her recipe for Marshmallow Buttercream in some cookies she made and it looked really good. I thought if I added some cocoa to that recipe it would be perfect for our cupcakes. It was perfect and really good!
We used my cupcake corer to take out a small circle from the center of the cupcakes. Then we stuck the ends of 2 or 3 gummy worms into the hole. We then piped chocolate marshmallow buttercream over the worms to make it look like they were coming out of the ground. Another worm was place on top of the buttercream. We added crushed thin chocolate filled Oreos on top for dirt and finished the whole thing off with fall leaf sprinkles. It was so much fun!
Chocolate Marshmallow Buttercream
1 cup soft butter
1/3 cup cocoa
½ tsp. almond extract
1 Tbsp. water
4 cups powdered sugar
13oz container of marshmallow fluff
Whip the butter until fluffy. Add the cocoa and flavoring then beat until smooth. Be sure to scrape the sides of your bowl every so often as you work. Add 2 cups powdered sugar and the water, beat until smooth. Add the remaining 2 cups of powdered sugar, beat until smooth. Add the marshmallow fluff and beat until fluffy. This will frost about 2 dozen cupcakes.
Happy October you all!
Hello everybody! These past few months have been busy with birthdays, baby showers, wedding cake tasting and of course holidays. Both of my grandsons had birthdays and it’s always fun to create what they ask for. They begin thinking about it and saving pictures months in advance. This year we had a construction site and Batman Lego cakes. Legally I can not sell a Batman Lego cake to the public because of copyright laws and all that, but I can make it for my grandson. I think it turned out pretty good. The Grands were happy and that’s all that matters. I also made a second attempt at petite fours for my daughters birthday. Years I ago I tried it and wasn’t impressed but after watching the Great American Baking Challenge I decided to try it again. They make it look so easy! It’s a lie. It is not. Also they are super sweet and I’m still not impressed. It won’t be added to my Sweet Eats website menu any time soon. My niece had a lovely bee themed baby shower that was lots of fun to do. Below are pictures of some of my creations for February and March.
Valentines Day, Purim and St. Patrick’s Day were all celebrated in our home this year. Everyone knows what Valentine’s Day is but not a lot of people know about Purim. It is a holiday commemorating the saving of the Jewish people from a really bad guy named Haman. You can read about it in the book of Esther in the Bible. Purim and St. Patrick’s Day were about the same time this year so I decided to pair the traditional Purim cookie, known as Hamanstachen in Yiddish, with what else? Irish cream! This Chocolate and Irish Cream filled cookie, drizzled with white chocolate and green sprinkles was sooooooo good!
St. Patrick’s Day! We actually had the whole soda bread, corn beef and cabbage meal twice this year. It’s so yummy! Every year I try to create a different take on traditional desserts to celebrate the holidays. St. Patrick’s Day has turned out to be one of the more challenging ones. There’s not a lot to work with. I once asked a very good friend, who happens to be a beautiful Irish lass, what spices are used in Ireland. She laughed and said, “Salt, pepper and for a bit of adventure some cinnamon.” So that didn’t help me much. This year I decided to combine my cream puff obsession with my Irish love to create the most amazing cream puff ever, Chocolate Cherry Irish Cream Filled Cream Puffs! I also made regular vanilla cream puffs and strawberry and cream filled cream puffs, which were also really yummy but nothing like the main event!
How to make Chocolate Cherry Irish Cream Filled Cream Puffs
Make your regular cream puff recipe. I like to use Betty Crocker’s Cream Puff recipe. Bake them, slice them in half and let them cool. Then whip up your cream filling.
Chocolate Cherry Irish Cream Whipped Cream Filling
1 pint of heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup (or to taste) of Bailey’s Chocolate Cherry Irish Cream
1 package of vanilla instant pudding
Beat all of the ingredients together with a mixer until the cream thickens and holds it’s shape.
Your puffs should be cool now. Spoon a good sized dollop of the cream filling on the bottom of each puff. Cover with the top puff. Melt about 1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips to drizzle over the top of each cream puff. Then sprinkle on some edible shamrocks. I found these at Michael’s. They looked like fun so I had to use them. Keep the puffs refrigerated until you eat them.
There you have it, Chocolate Cherry Irish Cream Filled Cream Puffs. Enjoy!
My cream puff obsession was put on hold for the holiday season but I am back with a new recipe to share with you. Even though we are still a few weeks away from February these Tiramisu Cream Puffs would make the perfect dessert for Valentine’s Day. Of course they are seriously delicious for any occasion so forget about waiting and try them today.
The idea for this cream puff came about because of my youngest daughter’s love of tiramisu. I love to bake and cook but I’m not going to lie, I don’t have patience for any long and complicated recipes, so I’m always on the look out to find the easiest ways to make the most complicated things. As I was looking up easier recipes to make tiramisu I came across this Easy 10 Minute No Bake Tiramisu recipe. Honestly, I have not made this exact recipe yet. I actually used it the first time to make the cream for this really yummy Tiramisu Cake.
Yes it was a thing of beauty, but we are here today to talk about cream puffs. Below you will find the step by step instructions for making my Tiramisu Cream Puffs.
Tiramisu Cream Puffs
I always begin my cream puffs with the basic recipe from my Betty Crocker cookbook which you can find here: Betty Crocker’s Cream Puff recipe. You will need to add a heaping tablespoon full of instant coffee to the melted butter and about 1 teaspoon of rum extract. Continue with the recipe until you have a coffee colored cream puff pastry dough.
Place the pastry dough by rounded spoonful’s onto a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper. Bake at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes. Let the baked puffs cool on the pan while you prepare the next step.
In a saucepan bring 1/3 cup of sugar and 1/8 cup of strong coffee to a boil, stirring occasionally. Let it boil until the sugar dissolves and becomes a syrup, about 3 or 4 minutes. Cut open the puffs and drizzle some of the syrup into the base of each puff and on top of each puff.
Then make the cream filling:
1 cup heavy whipping cream
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tsp Vanilla extract
6 oz. softened cream cheese
2 Tablespoons sour cream
3 Tablespoons heavy cream
Whip together the whipping cream, sugar and vanilla until your whipped cream forms peaks in the bowl.
In a separate bowl mix together the cream cheese, sour cream and heavy cream until light and fluffy.
Fold the cream cheese mixture into the whipped cream mixture. You can add a little more sugar if you like a sweeter cream filling.
Fill the centers of each cream puff base, put the top of the cream puff in place. In a microwave melt about 1 1/2 cups of semi sweet chocolate chips. Drizzle on top of each cream puff, or just slather it on like I do. Refrigerate for at least an hour. Enjoy!
Oh my goodness! We had such an amazingly comfortable winter and then suddenly it’s like somebody opened the deep freeze and threw us all in it. It is perfect soup weather, however, and I’ve been making a lot of it. Lentil soup was the most recent. I love lentil soup but it never turns out great for me. So I started browsing through Pinterest (whoever the genius is behind Pinterest I just want to thank them) and I found what sounded like a really yummy vegan lentil soup. I got out all of the ingredients then decided it should be doubled, so I got out more ingredients and then I started following the recipe. But me being me that’s about where the ‘recipe following’ ended. I tend to take recipes as more of a suggestion than a fact. It turned out great and I appreciate the Cookin’ Canuck for leading the way. I have written the instructions for how I tweaked my soup below. You can find the original recipe for Hearty Lentil & Black Bean Soup on the blog Cookin’ Canuck.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 cup chopped celery
4 cloves minced garlic
2 tsp. spanish paprika
2 tablespoons cumin
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
3 bay leaves
2 (14 oz.) can diced tomatoes
2 cup dried brown lentils
12 cups vegetable broth
2 (14 oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed
Heat olive oil in Dutch oven or pot over medium heat. Sauté the onions and celery for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic, spices and bay leaves.
Stir in the 2 cans of diced tomatoes, lentils and the vegetable broth. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat slightly and cook, stirring occasionally, until lentils are tender, 25 to 35 minutes.
Remove from the heat and let cool for about 10 minutes. Discard the bay leaves. Put about 4 cups of the lentil mixture and 2 cans of drained and rinsed black beans in a blender or food processor. Pulse until almost pureed, but still course.
Pour the blender mixture back into the pot with the remaining lentil mixture. Stir and reheat over medium heat. Enjoy!
Hey everybody! Happy New Year!
If you are looking for a really rich and yummy cake for your New Year’s Eve party you have to try this. Warning! This cake is not for children as it does contain a lot of alcohol.
First a little back story, a friend told us about this amazing store that has wine from all over the world called Total Wine. One day we went there specifically looking for wine from Israel and found that Total Wine is much more than just wine. This place has everything! Aisles and aisles of everything! Lo and behold, as I was wandering along these miles of aisles I came across one of my favorite things– Baileys Irish Cream. Aw but not just one kind of Baileys but several different varieties met my eyes. Of course the one that stood out and became a must have was this one…How beautiful is that? Immediately the possibilities started flooding my mind. So many yummy things can be made with this and of course it’s also really good to just drink but soooo much better in a chocolate cake. So, that’s what I made. Today I am sharing with you my Baileys Chocolate Cherry Cake. It’s rich, it’s decadent, it’s perfect for a holiday party. Happy New Years you all!
Shelley’s Baileys Chocolate Cherry Cake
Things you will need:
Favorite Chocolate Cake Recipe
Baileys Chocolate Cherry Cream
3 cups heavy whipping cream
4 Tablespoons sugar
1 can of cherry pie filling
Begin with baking your favorite chocolate cake recipe. I used the Chocolate Buttermilk Cake on page 94 of my “A Piece Of Cake” cookbook by Susan G. Purdy. It’s a little dryer than my usual chocolate cake recipe so holds it’s shape better. Bake your cake in two 9″ round cake pans, let them cool and then slice them in half so that you have 4 layers.
When all 4 layers are completely cooled make the whipped cream filling. In a mixing bowl whip 3 cups of heavy whipping cream, 1/2 cup of the Baileys Chocolate Cherry cream, and about 3-4 tablespoons of sugar until the cream is thick and holds a peak.
Then it’s time to assemble your layers. Place the first layer of cake onto your serving platter. With a pastry brush dab about 2 1/2 to 3 tablespoons of the Baileys onto the first layer of the cake.
Cover this with about 2 cups of whipping cream. Then place the second layer on top. Pipe a line of whipped cream around the edge of the second layer then fill the center with cherry pie filling.
Place the third layer on top of this and once again dab on about 2 1/2 to 3 tablespoons of the Baileys, cover this with about 2 more cups of the whipped cream. Place the fourth layer on top of this and repeat with a piped edge of whipped cream and more cherry pie filling in the center. I added a few more decorative stars of whipped cream because it’s pretty and you can never have too much whipped cream. All together your finished cake should look like this:
The flavor is best after it’s been cooled for a few hours, but if you can’t wait that’s fine also. Keep any leftovers refrigerated. Enjoy!