Simple advice for a better life.

Barbeque-Back-RibsJello-CheesecakeSweet-and-Sour-Coleslaw-

Independence Day in the U.S. is always celebrated on July 4th.  Many businesses are closed that day in observance of this holiday.

Families and friends get together for a cook out, outdoor fun.  In the evening everyone is looking forward to an exciting display of fire works, usually prepared by a local fire department.

My contribution to this celebration will consist of links to some of my previously posted recipes, which you may wish to prepare for your guests.

Barbeque-Back-Ribs

These  Pork Ribs with Bourbon Whiskey Barbecue Sauce take little more time to complete, but are awesomely delicious, and the meat, literally, falls of the bone.

Vegetable-Platter-

For the vegetarian guests, this easy to assemble Vegetable Platter will be a hit, for sure.

Sweet-and-Sour-Coleslaw-

Sweet and Sour Coleslaw is another vegetarian choice, as well as an excellent side dish to accompany your barbecue meats.

Broccoli-Salad

Delicious and healthful Broccoli Salad.

 

Jello-Cheesecake

Your gusts will just LOVE this easy, no bake Low Fat Jello Cheesecake.

This dessert should be made a day ahead, or several hours before serving, to give it a chance to firm up.

Jello-Mold-

If you are looking for much simpler dessert recipe, nothing will take less effort than this Strawberry Cream Cheese Jello Mold.

Enjoy your Independence Day party, and stay safe!

 

strawberry meringue cake   strawberry meringue cake - serving

 

 

 

 

 

 

Strawberry season is still here, making it easy to prepare a bunch of delicious strawberry desserts.

Today I will share an Eastern European recipe for a very simple, super moist, and very refreshing Strawberry Meringue Sheet Cake.

For best results, I recommend serving this cake the same day, or next day, at the latest.

It is very moist at room temperature, but does firm up while refrigerated.

I prefer serving it at room temperature.

Cake Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (I use unbleached)
  • 1/2 cup white sugar + 3 Tbs.
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • 1/2 cup butter, cubed
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. extract (I used rum)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 cups strawberries, hulled and sliced in half

Cake Directions:

  1. Place the flour, salt, and baking powder on a work surface.
  2. Using a spoon, make a well in the middle of the pile of flour mixture.
  3. Mix in egg yolks and extract.  Keep the egg whites refrigerated for now.
  4. Add 3 Tbs. sugar, and cubed butter.
  5. Mix all ingredients, and knead with your hands, to from a ball of soft dough.

strawberry meringue cake - three portions of cake dough

6.  Divide the  dough into 3, gradually smaller, balls.

7.  Cover, and keep refrigerated until it firms up, or over night.

8.  Line a 9 x 13 baking sheet with parchment paper (large enough to cover bottom and sides.

 

strawberry meringue cake - dough ready for shredding

strawberry meringue cake - First layer of shredded dough

 

9.  Take the largest ball of dough, and shred it on a large eye grater, to cover the bottom of the baking pan.

strawberry meringue cake - layer of strawberry slices

10.  Spread strawberries over this layer of dough. Smooth them out to form an even layer.

strawberry meringue cake - shredded batter over strawberries

11.  Take the medium dough ball and shred it over the strawberries.

12.  In a medium bowl, mix the egg whites until frothy, then add 1/2 cup sugar, and beat until soft peaks form.

strawberry meringue cake - scoops of egg whites meringue

strawberry meringue cake - layer of whipped egg whites

 

13.  Spread the meringue over the strawberries, and smooth it out evenly.

strawberry meringue cake - last layer of shredded dough

14.  Take the last dough ball and shred it evenly over the meringue.

15.  Preheat oven to 350 degree F.

16.  Bake for 35 minutes.

17.  Remove from the oven, and rest the cake, still in the pan, on a cooling rack.

18.  Using a butter knife, loosen up the cake around the edges, and cool it completely.

19.  Cut it into serving pieces, and arrange it on a serving platter.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

Waffle bowls filled with fresh fruit Ice Cream Cone Birthday Cupcakes

 

 

 

 

 

Another birthday party rolled around for my “little princess” granddaughter, who turned six years old.

This time she asked for an “Ice Cream Sundae” birthday party theme, so her mom, once again, went all the way out to make it exciting.

Today I will share some of the party moments I captured with my camera.

Ice Cream Cone bouquet

Outdoor Ice Cream Cones decor

 

 

There were plenty of ice cream cone type of decorations throughout the indoor and outdoor, as you can see at least two of these in the above picture.

Jelly beans ice cream cones, and rice krispies treats

Jelly beans ice cream cones

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ice cream cone marshmellow snacks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There was a large selection of sweet snacks, before the birthday brunch.

Some of which were Rice Krispies, decked out with decorative ice creams, ice cream cones filled with jelly beans, and ice cream shaped marshmallows.

 

Yummy snacks - Ice Cream Sundae Birthday Party

Oh yes…..there also was a nice display of fruit snacks, as well as variety of crackers, cheeses, mini kobasie (kabanos), sweet and savory dips and chips.

Ice Cream Sundae Brunch Food 1

Ice Cream Sundae Brunch Food 2

The Brunch Menu included Tri-Color Pasta Salad, Nirchi’s Pizza, Roast Beef Au Jus and buns, Breakfast Casserole, Quiche, and Waffles with syrup.

Ice Cream Sundae Toppings - Nuts Free

  Ice Cream Sundae Toppings - containing nuts

All set wtih ice cream bowls, spoons, plates, banana split boats

Here I would like to display all the “necessities” for ” Make your own Ice Cream Sundae”.

These included special ice cream bowls with matching spoons, banana split boats, and myriad of toppings to satisfy the “everything on it” and the “nut free” crowd.

Create your own Ice Cream Sundae

All the ice cream lovers lined up nicely next to the “Make Your Own Ice Cream Sundae” station.

Good thing the weather was great, so the event took place outdoors….as some of those creations gave way to gravity….and had to be recreated from scratch….:-)

It was a great success!!

They had more fun making these sundaes, than eating them.

Many of these fancy creations got abandoned shortly afterward, to melt in the sun, while the little guests got busy running around and playing.

 Decorate your own Ice Cream Server hat

One of the indoor activities included decorating your own ” Ice Cream Server” hat, as you can see how intensely and diligently the girls are working on this project.

They did a beautiful job, but forgot to wear them to the Ice Cream Sundae Making Station…oh well.

Ice Cream Sundae Thank You Favors Bags

Once the sweet treats depleted and the “sugar high” energy burned out, the party bunch was ready to go home for a nap.

They were sent off on their way with a colorful bag full of treats, stamped with ice cream cones (which the birthday girl decorated herself), and a nice Thank You note.  They also got to keep their special ice cream bowls with matching ice cream cone spoons.  Nice!

What a great party this was.

Can’t wait for another birthday party to photograph, and to share with you.

Dark Chocolate Ganache CakeMy daughter’s birthday was fast approaching, so I was researching many cake recipes with lots of dark chocolate (her favorite ingredient).

For the past three years I have been making her favorite Chocolate Cake with Fleur de Sel Caramel Filling, but this year I wanted to do something different.

She selected a Dark Chocolate Torte with Dark Chocolate Ganache, so I took her up on the idea, and baked the above pictured torte.

The original recipe was posted by Tarra Knight from Texas, in Taste of Home, however I tweaked it a little, and printed my version here.

It earned high marks from the birthday girl, and all the guests.

This cake freezes very well, but the fresh raspberries had to be removed before freezing, and replaced with fresh ones before serving ( we served the leftover cake  at Thanksgiving).

 Cake Ingredients:

  •  4 oz semi-sweet chocolate, chopped (I used Bakers chocolate for baking)
  • 2 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cup hot coffee (I used Dunkin Donuts Caramel flavored)
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 cups white sugar
  • 3/4 cup Canola Oil
  • 2 tsp. Vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (I used Gold Medal Unbleached)
  • 1 cup dark Cocoa powder, unsweetened
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup warm water ( for torte punch)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract (for torte punch)

Ingredients for Ganache:

  • 14 oz semi-sweet chocolate, chopped (I use Baker’s chocolate for baking)
  • 4 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 3 cups heavy cream for whipping (1 1/2 pint)
  • 7 tsp. light corn syrup

Cake Directions:

  1. Line the bottom of 3 – 8 inch round cake pans with parchment paper, and grease it generously (I also dab a little Crisco under the paper to keep it in place).
  2. Place the chopped  chocolate in a medium bowl, pour the hot coffee over it, and stir with a whisk until all chocolate melts, and smooth mixture forms.
  3. Cool to room temperature.
  4. In a large bowl, beat the eggs, adding sugar gradually, until creamy and light lemon color (the mixture resembles vanilla pudding).
  5. Mix in the oil and vanilla.
  6. Gradually add the chocolate mixture, continuously beating.
  7. Set aside.
  8. In another bowl mix the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
  9. Gradually incorporate the dry ingredients into the wet mixture, alternating it with gradual addition of the buttermilk.
  10. Divide the batter equally between the three cake pans.
  11. Preheat the oven to 325 degree F.
  12. Bake 30-35 minutes, or until the toothpick test is clean.
  13. Remove from the oven, and cool in pans for 10 minutes.
  14. Remove from pans unto wire cooling racks, to cool completely.

Ganache directions:

  1. Place the chopped chocolate in a medium bowl.
  2. Place a medium saucepan on the stove, pour in the heavy cream and corn syrup, and bring to boil.
  3. Pour the boiling cream over chopped  chocolate, and stir with a whisk until smooth and creamy.
  4. Set aside for at least 30 minutes, to cool it off slightly, stirring occasionally.

Assembling the torte:

  1. Slice off the “hump” from each cake top, to create even and flat top cake rounds.
  2. Cut two rectangular pieces of waxed or parchment paper, about 6 inches wide.
  3. Place these two pieces slightly overlapping, on a cake platter.
  4. Place the first cake round on top of the waxed paper.
  5. Prepare the torte punch by mixing the warm water with the vanilla extract.
  6. Dip a pastry brush into the torte punch, and brush the  cake top with it to moisten it.  Use 1/3 of the torte punch on each layer.
  7. Spread 1/2 cup of ganache on top of the cake.
  8. Place the second cake layer on top of the ganache.
  9. Sprinkle the cake top with the torte punch, as previously.
  10. Spread 1/2 cup of ganache over this cake layer as well.
  11. Place the third cake layer on top of the ganache, with the trimmed off top down.
  12. Spread the rest of the ganache over the top and sides of the cake.
  13. Decorate the top with candy, or fruit.
  14. Keep it refrigerated for couple of hours, or overnight, to firm up the ganache.

Enjoy this yummy torte, which is very “chocolaty” rich, yet semi-sweet at the same time.

 

Colorful flower - close-up viewmaking dessert   Experimenting with Celery root

We all have our own way of measuring our success, and counting our blessings.

As for me, I feel very fortunate to have wonderful children, and now adorable grandchildren.

I love spending my free time with them, listen to their stories, admire their imagination, and often time act as their student.  You will be surprised how much you learn about them, by letting them be the teacher.

Today I will share some of the fun stuff my granddaughter and I got into, while spending a weekend together at my house.

We started our day with making breakfast together.  She loves helping out in the kitchen.

We made her favorite Pan Apple Fritter (this link will take you to the recipe).

Apple-Pancakes-300x162

Children really enjoy eating the food they help to prepare.

We went for a walk, and stopped at a nearby playground, since she loves the jungle gym, and the slides.

Beautiful ButterflyColorful flower

the fun of braiding

She created a beautiful butterfly out of construction paper, pipe cleaners and pom poms.  We also made a beautiful flower out of cut up toilet paper roll, cardboard, paper plate, water paints, and pom poms.

We practiced braiding with strands of yarn, and ribbon.

Experimenting with Celery rootExperimenting with Celery root 2

 

We are experimenting with growing our own celery, by placing a cut off end of a celery root in a shallow water bath.  Only a week later, it already looked promising, so we transplanted it into a pot.

Ukrainian Alphabet

We always set aside few minutes to continue our Ukrainian culture, by learning the Ukrainian Alphabet (Cyrillic Alphabet shown above), so very soon she will be able to start reading and writing in Ukrainian.

She is doing an excellent job with writing her name in Ukrainian, and her vocabulary list is growing at a steady pace.

We sing, play games, do puzzles, read books, and watch movies.

Making Palushky

Having fun making a Palushky flower

 

 

 

 

Batch of Palushky ready to boil

We also made dinner together….her favorite dumplings -Palushky- (click here for a link to the recipe).

She not only enjoyed making them…..

Enjoying the fruits of the laborYummm....those Palushky were delicious

but also eating her own homemade dinner….yumm!

She was very proud to take some home to share with her family.  Her little brother loves them as well!

Jello Lemon Puddingmaking dessertDessert time - Lemon Pudding 2

We needed a quick dessert, to top off this wonderful experience, so Jello Instant Pudding came to the rescue.

She worked very diligently, whipping it all up to a perfect consistency, and finished the job with a smile.  How sweet is that.

We had a wonderful time.  It was a learning experience, and an unforgettable quality time together.

It is a blessing to be a parent, but words can not describe the joy of being a grandparent.

 

 

 

 

 

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