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Archive for April, 2010

The Bombe

Have you ever wanted to create a dessert that was so beautiful, so amazing, so delicious that your guests dropped their jaws and fell all over themselves telling you what a fabulous thing you have done? Me too.  I’m sure I will find that dessert someday but in the meantime this Chocolate Bombe comes pretty close!

Although I normally would avoid any recipe with this many ingredients and steps, this dessert is worth every bit of the sweat and tears that goes into making it.  Let me warn you that it takes a little time and many mixing bowls, but give it a try. You’ll be so glad you did! If you have any chocolate addicts in your life, they will thank you, too!

Here are the steps followed by the recipe.

The Ingredients

Plastic wrap the inside of the bowl and leave plenty hanging out. Yep, that is a pink bowl MWH bought me and I love it!

First layer in the bowl. Gently press it down to the bottom.

Put in half the filling over the first cake layer.

Gently press down the layers. I promise I washed my hands first!

Cover it tightly with the plastic wrap and put in the fridge for at least an hour or overnight.

When you are ready to serve, uncover the top and invert on a platter. Then remove the remaining plastic wrap.

Pattern for the chocolate butterflies. Mine is a little freaky, so draw your own if you like.

Trace the chocolate over the pattern onto waxed or parchment paper.

Make as many butterflies as you like!

Chocolate Butterflies - look good enough to eat!

Frost with whipping cream, drizzle with chocolate frosting, top with butterflies and a berry. Ta-Da!

A peek inside the cake. Just look at all that yummy chocolate and strawberry sweet goodness.

Chocolate Bombe

1 Betty Crocker Chocolate Fudge  cake mix (18-ounce box)

1 1/3 cups water

1 /2 cup oil

3 eggs

1 quart fresh strawberries, divided

2 envelopes unflavored Knox gelatin (1 ounce)

1/2 cup frozen strawberry juice concentrate, thawed

3 cups heavy whipping cream

1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 tbsp. vanilla extract

1/2 cup confectioners sugar

1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1 tsp. oil

2 tbsp. prepared chocolate frosting

Grease and flour three 8-inch round cake pans. Prepare cake mix according to package directions. Divide evenly in the three pans and bake at 350 degrees for 20-22 minutes or until toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes then remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Reserve a few strawberries for garnish. Pureé enough of the remaining strawberries to measure 1 cup and set aside. In a small micro-wave safe bowl, sprinkle gelatin over juice concentrate; let stand for five minutes. Microwave on high power one minute. Stir until gelatin dissolves; set aside. In a small mixing bowl, beat 1 cup of the heavy cream until stiff.

In another mixing bowl, combine cream cheese, sugar and vanilla; mix well. Blend in strawberry pureé. Gradually add gelatin mixture and blend until smooth. Whisk in whipped cream; set aside.

Line a 12-cup capacity bowl with 2-3 long sheets of plastic wrap, allowing ends of plastic wrap to hang over the sides of the bowl by at least 6 inches.

Gently press one cake layer into the bottom of the bowl. Spoon about one-half of the filling over the cake layer then top with another layer of cake. Spread remaining filling over the second layer of the cake; top with the third layer of cake. Gently press down. Cover with loose ends of plastic wrap and refrigerate at least one hour (you can refrigerate over night as well).

Line a baking sheet with a piece of waxed paper or baking parchment. Place the butterfly pattern under the paper. Mix chocolate chips and oil in micro-wave safe bowl, microwave on high in 10-15 second intervals, stirring until chocolate is smooth and melted. Spoon into a pastry bag or a resealable plastic sandwich bag with the tip of a corner snipped. Trace the butterfly pattern with the chocolate. Move the pattern around the pan, tracing as many butterflies as you’d like to make. When finished, place in the freezer for at least an hour until chocolate has hardened.

When ready to serve, mix the confectioners sugar with the remaining cream until stiff. Uncover top of the bombe. Invert onto a serving platter; remove and discard plastic wrap. Frost with sweetened whipped cream.

Put prepared chocolate frosting in a microwave safe bowl and warm on high for about 15 seconds. Using a knife, drizzle chocolate over the cake in a swirling pattern. Top with chocolate butterflies and add a berry on top for garnish. Don’t let the butterflies set out of the freezer for too long before you add them to the cake as they softened quickly.

Stand back and be prepared for your guests to be dazzled by your creative culinary talents!

Happy Entertaining!

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Years ago, when I was first getting to know my Most Wonderful Hubby’s mom, I heard her use the phrase “It speaks to me.” I’ve heard her say it many, many times since and let me tell you, if something doesn’t speak to her, she is not interested in it at all. On the flip side, if something should happen to speak to her, watch out, she is all over it! In the past, fly fishing, pontoon boating, snowmobiling, cross stitching, quilting and bicycling have all spoken to her.

So being a good daughter-in-law, I adopted the phrase as my own. There are many things that do not “speak to me” like laundry, housecleaning, ironing, being outside in freezing temperatures, cranky people, ironing,  bad food, howling wind, ironing, calendulas, screaming children, horrid smells, ironing, and heinous cats.

I do have some favorite things that seem to not only speak to me, but sometimes scream loudly.

Cute shoes speak to me. Sometimes they even call to me in my sleep.

I try to not neglect the calling.

Roses speak to me. Their lovely blossoms, their fragrant smells.

They whisper to me on summer breezes.

These kiddos speak to me. They make me smile and give me sticky kisses.

Chocolate speaks to me. Sometimes with a megaphone. The darker the better.

Clearance sales speak to me.

They make my heart flutter and lure me in with promised treasures.

And this big guy – he speaks to me.

He speaks to my heart and makes me laugh.

(He also speaks at me… like when I can’t avoid the call of cute shoes and come home with nine  pairs, but that is a story for another day).

What speaks to you? Makes you smile? I’d love to know!

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My shout out for this week goes to a friend who is also one of the best photographers I’ve ever seen – Greg Lehman.

He has the unique talent of capturing the emotion and feeling of his subjects and it makes for some absolutely amazing photographs, particularly for weddings.

On top of all his wonderful talent, Greg is just an all-around nice guy. I have worked with him on several projects and he is always kind, thoughtful, creative and professional.

If you know anyone looking for a fantastic photographer, especially a wedding photographer, tell them to talk to Greg!

Check out his website here!

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Adding a few special touches to your home when you entertain can make the difference between a ho-hum gathering and a party your guests will never forget. You don’t have to spend a lot or go to a huge amount of effort to make your home look and feel extra-special. Here are a few tips:

Use a variety of decorating techniques to make your event special. Just by changing the linens, dishes and centerpiece, you can transform your dining room from casual to formal in a snap. Spend a little time on the extras that give your party a WOW factor!

The sense of smell is very important and one of the first things a guest notices when they walk into your home. Create a comforting aroma. Just as colors and sounds trigger emotional responses, smells have wonderful – or not so wonderful – effects on our moods. A guest’s first impression of a party may not be what first hits their eyes and ears, but their noses!

Whether it’s an apple pie or chocolate chip cookies baking in the oven, or scented candles placed throughout the entertaining area, limit it to one main fragrance. Lighting a lot of candles with different scents will negate the effect completely.

Make sure to include a candle in the bathroom. Not only does at add a nice ambience, but it creates a pleasant fragrance.

Perfect party lighting is also very important. Parties are a good time to let the shadows fall where they may. Your party is the perfect time to have your guests see themselves at their best.

The best trick for this is to think pink! You can buy pink bulbs almost anywhere, and changing out the bulbs in your lamps for pink ones will make an amazing difference to the ambience. The next rule is to lower the wattage. Either hit the dimmer switches or replace the bulbs with lower watts.

And of course nothing takes the place of candle light, whether outside or inside, so consider having no electric lights on whatsoever.

Happy Entertaining!

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Word of the Day: Pertinacious

per·ti·na·cious

{pur-tn-ey-shuhs}

–adjective

1. holding tenaciously to a purpose, course of action, or opinion; resolute.
2. stubborn or obstinate.
3. extremely or objectionably persistent

He was pertinacious in his determination to win the game.
I love this word! It is so fun to say!
What makes you pertinacious?

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I first made these easy appetizers for a party last summer. I made a huge tray of them, really I did. There were witnesses. I’d barely put them down on the buffet before they were literally inhaled and there was nothing left. Nothing!

So my BFF helped me whip together another batch that was consumed almost as quickly as the first. There are no fancy ingredients or involved steps to making these, but they are so, so good!

Taco Appetizers

Tostitos Scoops!  tortilla chips

1 1/2 pounds ground beef

1 can chili

1/2 cup shredded colby-jack or cheddar cheese

1/2 cup sour cream

1 avocado, peeled and diced

2-3 tomatoes, diced

1 small can sliced olives

All-purpose seasoning

Salt and Pepper

Brown the ground beef, add all-purpose seasoning and salt and pepper. While it is cooking, dice the tomato and avocado. Line up chips on your serving tray. Cook chili according to can directions. When everything is cooked, layer in each chip the beef, chili, tomatoes, avocado, olives, sour cream and cheese.

These will disappear almost as fast as you can make them. Go ahead, try to eat just one. I dare you!

Happy Entertaining!

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The other day Most Wonderful Hubby and I were in friendly negotiations about which one of us was going to do a chore neither one of us was particularly interested in tackling.

“You should do it,” he said. “It builds character.”

That is when I laughed at him. I’ve got plenty of character, thank you very much.  He has more than his share, as well, but that is the line he pulls any time and every time there is something he really doesn’t want to do.

As I mentioned that fact to him, it reminded me of a book I loved to read as a young girl called Little Britches by Ralph Moody. In the story, after the son had done something he shouldn’t have and knew better, the father explained to him about character. The father said your character is like a house and you are either building it up or tearing it down. I always liked the visual that created.

With Hubby’s help, I should have a character house of monumental proportion!

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