Archive for July, 2010

Angel Food Mini Cakes

The other day I needed to make a dessert for a meeting. My stove was still serving as the world biggest paperweight with the inability to do anything but take up space in my kitchen.

So I started racking my brain for something good that would not require me to bake or cook on the stovetop. What I came up with was something really easy and pretty tasty.

Ingredients for Assembling Angel Food Mini Cakes

Freshly Whipped Cream with Vanilla. Please ignore the fact that I'm sloppy and spilled vanilla extract all over the bottle and dribbled on the counter. Thank you.

Pretty little cakes, just waiting for filling.

The wait is over, filling is in place.

Ready for transport...

Ready to be eaten!

Angel Food Mini Cakes

Angel Food mini cakes

1 box of Jello Mousse Mix

Whipping Cream

Powdered Sugar

Vanilla Extract


Mix mousse according to package directions. Set aside. Use heavy cream and whip until it starts to form peaks. Add in a dash of vanilla extract and a sprinkling of powdered sugar. If you are using a small carton of cream, use about a 1/2 tsp. of vanilla and 1/4 cup of sugar. If you want to use something like Cool Whip  and save yourself the work of this step, go ahead. You’ll miss out on the fresh whipped cream flavor, but if you can live with it, so can I.

Rinse raspberries and gently pat dry on a paper towel.

If you like to slave over a hot stove, by all means, make your own angel food cakes. But I have to tell you, I found these little gems at Costco, pre-made and ready to go and they were excellent! Moist and flavorful and probably better than I could make. So I have decided to embrace the pre-made cakes with abandon!

Fill the centers of each cake with a generous spoonful of the mousse mix. Top with a dollop of whipped cream and then nestle a juicy raspberry right into the centers. Serve on a pretty platter and prepare to be complemented on your excellent dessert!

Enjoy and Happy Entertaining!

Shanna (a.k.a. The Shortcut Taker)

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Since July is National Ice Cream Month and technically it is still July, I decided to make today’s post about ice cream. In case you didn’t know it, ice cream is among my top 10 sweets I love and know I shouldn’t eat.

But when the weather is hot  and humid and I’m whiny and lazy, ice cream is a temptation just to delicious to ignore!

Way back when I was growing up on the family farm, the Schwan’s delivery man used to come by our house every two weeks. I thought he was a superhero! There was no mistaking his truck as it drove down our road, dust clouds swirling, letting us know he was on the way. My little head would fill with visions of all the wonderful frozen treats tucked inside his magic truck. He’d come to the door, take Mom’s order and then quickly return, arms laden with frozen canisters of pure delight.

As wrong as this is going to sound, Mom used to buy two or three of their big cans every time he came. They weren’t gallon size. They were even bigger. To my little 6-year-old head, they could have been 40 gallon drums. All I knew is that more ice cream had arrived! We would eat ice cream after lunch and if we were lucky, we might sneak in a frozen treat in the afternoon. Then in the evenings, when the work was done and dusk settled around us and the sky was brushed with streaks of pink, orange and gold as the sun dipped behind the hills, we’d whip out another bowl of ice cream. If we hadn’t worked (and played) so hard, we probably would have all weighed 300 pounds. As it was, I enjoyed it while it lasted. It gave us something fantastic to look forward to every day. We’d tried a lot of new and different flavors, but vanilla was definitely a staple.

Which is probably why vanilla remains my favorite flavor of ice cream. Boring? Yes. But with plain vanilla ice cream you get so many possibilities. You can add fruit or chocolate, nuts or candy pieces, tasty syrups and yummy toppings. You can smoosh it between two cookies, top brownies and dollop it on pie.

What is your favorite flavor? Do you have any ice cream memories from your childhood?

My absolute favorite flavor of vanilla ice cream comes from the Tillamook County Creamery Association. If you like vanilla, you will go loopy over their old-fashioned vanilla ice cream. It is a spoonful of amazing summer memories in every bite.

Eat some ice cream today and see if it doesn’t make you smile!



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Today’s Shout-out goes to a handyman named Ken.

He came to my house last night to install my new dishwasher. That in itself isn’t so eventful (unless your old dishwasher had caught fire and frightened a good six years off your lifespan). What was noteworthy was his attitude and helpfulness.

Having had one of those days, I arrived home five minutes late. He was sitting by the front door, next to the new dishwasher, patiently waiting for me to arrive – out in the heat.

Once he looked at the old dishwasher, he let me know we were going to have some problems getting it out and getting the new one in. What should have been a quick installation turned into two hours of hard work on his part.

He did a fantastic job, gave me a great deal on his labor and was polite and friendly the entire time.

So thank you, Ken the Handyman, for taking such good care of us and for hauling away the flaming dinosaur that was probably a very nice dishwasher 25 years ago!


(One very pleased  customer)

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Heat Wave

“We’re having a heat wave,
A tropical heat wave,
The temperature’s rising,
It isn’t surprising…”

From Irving Berlin

Word of the Week: Heat Wave

heat wave



an air mass of high temperature covering an extended area and moving relatively slowly.

a period of abnormally hot and usually humid weather.
a convenient excuse for lethargy, inactivity, downright laziness and indulging in ice cream
(I added that third one, I don’t know what Webster’s is thinking leaving it out!)
It is toasty warm here today, just like it was yesterday, and the day before. The breeze is hot, the air somewhat stifling and the sun beats down relentlessly.  Wow! Summer has finally arrived!
Since I’m able to mostly go from air conditioned house to air conditioned car to air conditioned buildings, I am not feeling the pain that many others do when it is warm. For me, it is a great excuse to be lazy, sit next to the AC and eat ice cream. Yep, I turn into a complete and total slug when it gets this hot.
Hubby has had to fend for himself the last couple days because 1. I have no working stove or dishwasher and 2. It is just too hot to care. When he mentions food, I point toward the freezer and offer to share my ice cream, knowing he is not a fan of the cold, creamy confection.  His loss, my gain. Hah!
But my new stove is due to arrive today and then I will be forced to abandon my post by the AC and actually test it out.
Wish me luck,
The Slug

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Today, I have a very special guest blogger. Mandi Konen is a baker extraordinaire. She is a Pastry Chef at The Marc Restaurant in the historic Marcus Whitman Hotel  in Walla Walla, WA. Today she is sharing a great recipe for a vanilla ice cream base. Enjoy!

Ice Cream!

Ice cream can be traced all the way back to the 4th century B.C.  Roman emperor Nero (A.D. 37-68) ordered ice to be brought down from the mountains and mixed with fruit toppings.  King Tang (A.D. 618-97) of Shang, China had a method of creating ice and milk mixtures.  Ice Cream was more than likely  brought over from Europe.  After the dessert was imported to the United States it was served by several famous Americans, including George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.  The first ice cream parlor in the United States was opened in New York City in 1776.  American colonists were the first to use the term “ice cream” which came from the phrase “iced cream” but later shortened to ice cream.

Since ice cream uses such few ingredients it is important to use premium ingredients to ensure the best frozen treats!

Vanilla Ice Cream Base

2 c.              Half and Half
1.5 c.            Heavy Cream
1 ea.            Vanilla Bean, split in half lengthwise and seeds scraped
8 ea.            Egg Yolks, Large
.75 c.            Sugar, granulated
.25 tsp.        Salt

In a heavy saucepan combine half and half, vanilla bean and heavy cream.  Over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, bring the mixture until barely comes to a simmer (approximately 5 minutes), also known as scalding.  Meanwhile in a heatproof bowl, whisk the egg yolks, sugar and salt until mixture lightens and doubles in volume, approximately 2 minutes.

Once the cream has been scalded (it will have a distinct odor difference once it has been scalded from when it was cold).  Slowly begin whisking the scalded cream into the egg mixture until smooth.  This technique is known as tempering and prevents the egg yolks from curdling under instant heat.  Pour the egg-cream mixture back into the saucepan, while whisking constantly return to medium heat.  Using a spoon, stir until the mixture forms a custard thick enough to coat the back of the spoon (nappe thickness), about 1-2 minutes.  Do not let it boil!

Meanwhile set up an ice bath (a larger bowl than the one holding the ice cream base filled with ice and a little bit of water) and place the smaller bowl with the ice cream base in it to stop the cooking process.  Pour the ice cream base through a fine mesh sieve (chinois) into a clean bowl or storage container.  Stir the custard until cool in the ice bath, cover and chill for at least 4 hours, up to 3 days.

Pour the ice cream base into an ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions.  Other ingredients such as fresh fruit, nuts, etc. can be added at this time as well!  Spoon the ice cream into a freezer safe container, cover and freeze until firm, at least 2 hours or up to 3 days.

I hope you have enjoyed this recipe and if you have any questions regarding the process, feel free to email me at pastry@marcuswhitmanhotel.com



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I absolutely promise this is the last post I’ll make (at least this week) about the Willow House Conference. Really, I promise!

But I had to share this thought about synergy. Have you ever been in a group that is excited about something and you can just feel the energy in the air? It’s pretty amazing, isn’t it?

Websters defines synergy as “the interaction of two or more agents or forces so that their combined effect is greater than the sum of their individual effects.”

Do you have any idea how much synergy is created by a group of 1,500 people (98% of them sleep-deprived, caffeine loaded, excited beyond reason women)? A whole lot. So much, in fact, if you could capture it, you could power a small city.

These women (and few men) were so pumped up, so thrilled, so anxious to jump into the new business model announced last week, the room wasn’t enough to keep it contained. It spilled out in text messages, in phone calls, and onto the poor sales people and waitstaff with the misfortune of working within walking distance of the conference center.

It was awesome! Not only do I love seeing that excitement, I love being in the midst of it all and feeling the energy. It is like having the ability to take your worn-down battery and plug it into the energizer bunny. Wow! You are recharged and ready to go faster, better and longer than you’ve ever gone before.

Synergy is a fabulous thing. If you’ve never experienced it, I highly encourage you to get yourself into the place you can.

My thanks to Bill and Robin Shaw and all the staff at Willow House for making the event possible. For giving us stepping stones to reach for the stars and a road map for the journey ahead. For being visionaries, for being innovative and for believing in us! Thank you, thank you, thank you!


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