Archive for December, 2008

Christmas Dinner Party

Tuesday, December 30th, 2008

I hope all of you had a Merry Christmas!!!  I had a wonderful time with all of my family and now am on a vacation in June Lake, CA.  We are loving the beautiful white mountains and braving the slopes.  I found out that I am not cut-out for snowboarding after experiencing quite the wipe-out my first day, but I was determined not to stay inside the cabin and just eat all day so I tried cross-country skiing with my father-in-law today and loved it.  It is more controlled than snowboarding and yet quite the workout…I am sore all over!  Well, as I pondered about what to blog about I found myself looking at all of my Christmas photos and realized that I had forgotten to share a wonderful dinner party that I had with a bunch of friends a couple weeks ago.  We had a fantastic time and loved trying out each other’s recipes.  I hope you enjoy the photos and the yummy recipes at the end of the post.  

One of my best girfriends, Kate, made an easy and yummy appetizer.  She cooked some dried cranberries in a little Grand Marnier and brown sugar and then place it over warm Brie cheese.  We devoured it!

I prepared the salad and dessert for everyone.  The salad had a Mandarin Orange Vinaigrette and tasty add-ins like blue cheese, candied walnuts, dried cranberries, golden raisins, apples, and mandarin oranges. 

My friend Matt made the Pomegranate Margaritas for the night!  They were sooo good and definitely a special treat for the night!

Brian made a delicious soup for us to enjoy for dinner.  It was a new recipe he tried out for the first time and I thought it was quite tasty.  It was a hearty Butternut Squash Soup that had Chorizo and Pepitas in it along with a bunch of other delicious ingredients.

For dessert I made one of my all-time favorites…Caramel Pumpkin Cheesecake with Cream Cheese Frosting and Gingersnap Crust.  The recipe is a little time-consuming, but well worth it!

Here are a couple more photos from the fun night!

And of course I couldn’t leave you without a couple of the delicious recipes…both from the lovely

Anasazi Butternut Squash Soup with Chorizo and PepitasBon Appétit | October 1999


Yield: Makes 6 servings


3/4 cup dried kidney beans
1 pound beef chorizo sausages, casings removed
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups water
2 14 1/2-ounce cans beef broth

3 cups 1/2-inch pieces peeled seeded butternut squash
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
1 1/4 cups frozen corn kernels
2/3 cup shelled pepitas, toasted


Place kidney beans in medium bowl. Pour enough water over to cover beans by 3 inches. Let stand overnight. Drain.

Sauté chorizo in heavy large pot over medium heat until cooked through and fat is rendered, about 10 minutes. Transfer chorizo to paper towels; drain, leaving 2 tablespoons drippings in pot. Add onion and garlic; sauté until tender, about 6 minutes. Add 3 cups water, broth and beans; bring to boil. Reduce heat; cover. Simmer until beans are tender, 1 hour.

Add squash to soup. Cover; simmer until tender, about 15 minutes. Stir in bell peppers, corn and chorizo; simmer uncovered about 10 minutes longer.

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Caramel Swirl Bon Appétit | November 1993


Yield: Serves 10


1 1/2 cups ground gingersnap cookies
1 1/2 cups toasted pecans (about 6 ounces)
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted

4 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 2/3 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups canned solid pack pumpkin
9 tablespoons whipping cream
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon (about) purchased caramel sauce
1 cup sour cream

For Crust:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Finely grind ground cookies, pecans and sugar in processor. Add melted butter and blend until combined. Press crust mixture onto bottom and up sides of 9-inch-diameter springform pan with 2 3/4-inch-high sides.
For Filling:
Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar in large bowl until light. Transfer 3/4 cup mixture to small bowl; cover tightly and refrigerate to use for topping. Add pumpkin, 4 tablespoons whipping cream, ground cinnamon and ground allspice to mixture in large bowl and beat until well combined. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating just until combined. Pour filling into crust (filling will almost fill pan). Bake until cheesecake puffs, top browns and center moves only slightly when pan is shaken, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Transfer cheesecake to rack and cool 10 minutes. Run small sharp knife around cake pan sides to loosen cheesecake. Cool. Cover tightly and refrigerate overnight.

Bring remaining 3/4 cup cream cheese mixture to room temperature. Add remaining 5 tablespoons whipping cream to cream cheese mixture and stir to combine. Press down firmly on edges of cheesecake to even thickness. Pour cream cheese mixture over cheesecake, spreading evenly. Spoon caramel sauce in lines over cream cheese mixture. Using tip of knife, swirl caramel sauce into cream cheese mixture. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

Release pan sides from cheesecake. Spoon sour cream into pastry bag fitted with small star tip (do not stir before using). Pipe decorative border around cheesecake and serve.


Last Batch of Christmas Sugar Cookies

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2008

Well, I am officially done with Christmas orders…yippee!!!  I thought I would share my last batch of Christmas cookies with you.  I hope you all have a Merry Christmas and thanks for a wonderful year of blogging!

I would love to hear which one you like the best!


Christmas Sugar Cookies & Cupcakes…Plus a Recipe

Monday, December 22nd, 2008

Well, the holidays have definitely kept me busy, so sorry for the lack of posts this last week!  Thank you all for your sweet comments about the cookies.  To answer many of your questions…I achieved the shimmered look by mixing a small amount of lemon extract and luster dust (whatever color you want) and then painted it on my cookie that was already iced with dried royal icing.  The luster dust is edible of course and gives the cookies such a dramatic and rich look.  Hope that helps! 

So this post is going to be a mix of many recent orders and events that I have done…I hope you enjoy the photos!  First up are adorable little snowmen made out of fondant.  I used them as a topper for a Christmas cupcake order that I had. There were 78 of these little snowmen and it took quite a while to finish them all up, not to mention baking the cupcakes, frosting, and individually packaging them…

The photos from the event didn’t turn out too good, so sorry for the lack of photos of the finished product. Next up are some more photos of Christmas sugar cookies that my sister designed, plus a present cake I did for a recent birthday order.

Last, but not least are some photos of a recent kid’s cooking class I taught at Prep Kitchen Essentials.  The theme was Christmas cookies and as you can see from the photos, the kids had a great time baking and decorating them!

So if you have never made Cinnamon & Sugar Palmiers before you have to try them out.  They are so easy and soooo delicious!  Hope you enjoy the recipe!  Merry Christmas!


Cinnamon Sugar Palmiers
Makes 30-36 cookies

1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 (17 1/4 ounce) package frozen puff pastry, thawed

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and lightly grease two baking sheets. In a small bowl, mix together the sugar and cinnamon. Unfold one of the puff pastry sheets on a clean surface. Sprinkle evenly with a quarter of the cinnamon sugar mixture. Gently press the cinnamon sugar into the pastry. Flip the pastry over and repeat. Roll up each long side of the puff pastry jellyroll fashion to meet in the middle, forming the V shaped Palmiers. Tightly wrap and place in the freezer for 5-10 minutes. Repeat with the other sheet of dough. Remove the first sheet from the freezer and slice the log into 18 1/2-inch thick slices. Place each slice two inches apart on one of the cookie sheets lined with parchment paper. Repeat with the other log. Place in the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Flip each of the pastries over and continue to bake for 7-8 minutes, or until crisp and pale golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack and cool.

Christmas Decorated Sugar Cookies

Sunday, December 14th, 2008

Well, I just finished decorating some Christmas sugar cookies with my sister and I wanted to share them with you!  My sister doesn’t have a background in baking or decorating at all, but has always been very artistic so just recently we started working together and I began showing her how to decorate cookies, cupcakes, and cakes.  Well let me tell you…she is one of my best students yet!!!  She is so amazing and catches on very quickly!  We have been having such an amazing time together decorating and chatting away!  Here are some of the fruits of our labor, plus a few from last year…hope you enjoy!

Thanks for taking a look!  I would love to hear which one is your favorite!

Purse Cake Tutorial!

Thursday, December 11th, 2008

Like I said in a recent post Thanksgiving was a lot of fun for me and one of the reasons it was extra special is because my niece’s birthday landed right on it!  So I thought I would make her a purse cake for her birthday this year.  I loved hearing all of your wonderful purse suggestions and looked at many styles along the way. For this purse cake I have to say that I didn’t really go with one exact purse, but rather combined different elements of purse cakes and other cake details that I have seen and wanted to try out.  I also tried to take some photos along the way so you could see how the basic structure is built.  Hope you enjoy it!

My niece requested Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting, so that is what I made.  I baked the cake off in two half-sheet pans and then cut each pan in three parts, so there was six layers all total.  I layered the cake and at about four inches height I dowelled the cake and put my cardboard piece on so that the cake would be more stable.  I then stacked the cake a little more and started carving away until I got the shape I wanted.

I then frosted the cake in vanilla buttercream and let it set up in the fridge for a couple hours.  Next I covered the cake with fondant in two stages so that I could get the ruffled effect.  

Then I used a zipper mold to make the zipper and placed it in the middle of the cake.

To get the color I used a mixture of lemon extract, petal dust, and luster dust and painted the cake by hand.  I then painted the accents gold.  

For the final details I scored the cake down the center and painted the lines gold and brown.  Then I placed gold dragees up the center of the cake.  To finish off the cake I borrowed my sister’s broach and put it as the final detail.  (I could’ve attempted to make one out of sugar, but didn’t have the time)

Here are some more pictures from Thanksgiving!

Thanks for checking out my photos!


Cakes & Cupcakes

Sunday, December 7th, 2008

Thanks everyone for your sweet comments about the Christmas cupcakes!  I love hearing from all of you! Well, work has been busy and I actually have a lot of random orders that I wanted to share with you…so here they are!  The first two cakes are ones that my friend Hannah and I designed for the holiday season. We thought we would go a little more modern with the designs.

This next order was for a Minnie Mouse Cupcake Cake.  I hadn’t ever done one of these types of cakes before and found it to be a little tricky.  I tried just using buttercream to make Minnie’s face, but didn’t like how it was turning out, so I decided to use fondant instead…overall I was pretty happy with it, but would definitely do some things different next time.

A couple weeks ago I had a cupcake order for an anniversary party.  The colors were lime green, gold, and brown…this is what I came up with!

And lastly, this next cake design my friend Hannah & Nadia collaborated on with me.  We wanted to do a modern tree and bird cake.

Thanks for taking a look!

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