Lightning McQueen tutorial

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At some point in most little boys’ lives, since its release, Cars was a favorite movie. So it was no wonder that there were numerous requests for Cars themed cakes. The majority of the cakes I make are all different. Cars has been the most oft recurring theme, aside from pirate. Due to this, I made Lightning McQueen often enough to have tried out different methods of making this character, and finally settled on one way that is easy and relatively simple.

You will need:

carstut001Red fondant about the size of a golf ball. Yellow, black, and white fondant the size of a marble. Small amount of blue fondant, exacto knife, ball tool, scriber, dresden tool, circle cutters, marker tops with a design for rims on wheels, powdered sugar, and shortening.

carstut002A piece of baking paper, rolling pin, edible glue (or water), paint brush, wheel cutter, window and lightning paper templates.

Let’s get started.

carstut003For the base of the car, take the red fondant. Roll out a thick piece and trim to a rectangle shape.

carstut004Make an indentation in the middle for the roof of the car. Pinch the middle, smooth one end to give shape for the rear of the car, and round of the other end for the front.

carstut005Get a ball of red dough about 2.5 cm in diameter.

carstut006Using your fingers, gently shape into a rounded car roof shape. One end should be slightly sloping down, and the other end flattened on the front, to make the windshield.

carstut007Attach roof to the car using a bit of water or edible glue. Using the dresden tool, smooth the roof onto the car and make the front indentations for the hood.

carstut008Using the scriber, make an indent on the back of the car for the spoiler.

carstut009Roll a thin ended paintbrush, and using your fingers gently ease the dough up to form the spoiler.

carstut011Roll your black fondant about 3 mm thick. Cut out your wheels. Roll some red about 2 mm thick and cut out smaller circles for the rims.

carstut012Place the rims on the wheels with a tiny dab of glue. Using a top of a marker or pen of some sort that has a design, push on the red until it is even with the black. This forms the decorative rim. Set wheels aside to dry overnight.

carstut010Take a round cutter tool, whatever size of wheel you want. Mark the four places where you want your wheels to go. Set car aside to dry overnight.

carstut013Roll out some white, about 1 mm thick. Using the window template, cut out the front window.

carstut014Attach it to the car with edible glue or a tiny smear of water. Trim edges to make everything fit well, and make one side of the window slightly lower.

carstut015Roll out some black fondant, very thinly, and using the side window template, cut out the windows for the side of the car. Cut out a rounded rectangular window for the back.

carstut016Glue the windows on the car. Using the scriber tool, make indented lines on the back window.

carstut017Using the circle cutter, press on the indents on the car, already made for the wheels. Go as far in as you can.

carstut018With an exacto blade or very sharp, small, and thin knife, cut away the inner parts of the wheels, to leave a space to place your tires.

carstut019Roll out some yellow, very thinly, and using a template, cut out the lightning bolts.

carstut020Roll a tiny piece of blue fondant, and using a round nozzle, cut out the eyes.

carstut021Glue the eyes on the front window, and the lightning on the sides.

carstut022Glue in the wheels. While you do the rest of the work, have the car resting on a surface with the wheels not touching the ground.

carstut023With the scriber tool, or a needle point, draw the outline of the mouth.

carstut024Using the dresden tool, shape the mouth. You can also use any small flat item, like the end of a spoon.

carstut025Take some white fondant and fill the mouth shape to make the teeth. Take some yellow fondant and make small balls. Shape them to be the lights. Glue them on. Using a black food pen or some food coloring and a thin paintbrush, make the pupils on the eyes and lines on the lights. Roll a thin piece of red and outline the top of the windshield. (see pic below for a better view).

carstut026Lastly, roll very thin red lines and glue them on the back window just so. Draw a 95 on some yellow fondant and cut it out as much as you can around the lines. Draw another 95 on a small yellow circle. Using a paintbrush and some red powdered food coloring, brush on half the 95 cutout, the yellow circle and the lightning with the color. Glue numbers on to the car, and there you have it.

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Honey and Mustard Marinade

I don’t like pre-fab foods. Maybe it is because I like to cook, that I figure why buy a ready made mix or sauce or marinade, which has any number of preservatives, colorings, and what-nots in it, when I am perfectly capable of making it myself. Thus I make most of my foods at home from scratch. It may take a bit more time, but I think it is worth it. It’s my small part in making sure we are eating healthy, yet still delicious.

Since we eat chicken quite often, I have to find a different way of cooking it so we don’t get bored. Fine by me! I enjoy experimenting. Roasted chicken is a family favorite, and with a few marinade recipes under your belt, you can add variety in flavors while keeping the meal simple.

Honey and Mustard marinade

Ingredients:

1 clove garlic

1 tsp salt

1 tablsp. Mustard

1 tsp. Whole grain mustard

Pepper (I like to use whole grains in a grinder)

paprika

1 tblsp. Honey

Instructions:

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Crush the garlic with salt using a mortar and pestle.

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I use a small ceramic one. I learned about the garlic/salt crush in Brazil. It definitely makes a difference in the flavour.

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Once it is crushed add the mustards.

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Next the pepper, paprika, and honey. Mix together well and use. You can also use this as a BBQ sauce, or a dip for Chinese fondue or stone-grilled meat. Works the best with chicken or pork.

Thai Style Chicken

Thai-style Chicken

Ingredients:

peanut oil and olive oil for frying

500 gr. Chicken

1 small onion

2 cloves garlic

3 or 4 thin slices ginger

½ a zucchini

1 carrot

2 or 3 small mushrooms

1 to 2 tsp. thai chili paste

3 tblsp. Ketchup

3 tblsp. Tomato puree

2 tblsp. Fish sauce

1 tblsp. Soya sauce

1 to 2 cups coconut milk

½ cup cashew nuts chopped

salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

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Thinly slice the carrot, zucchini and mushrooms. Cut the onions in small pieces. Peel the garlic and slice the ginger.

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Cut the chicken into bite sized pieces.

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Put a tblsp. of olive oil and 2 tblsp. peanut oil in a wok.

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Place the sliced ginger in the pan and saute till lightly browned. Remove from oil.

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Add the onion and garlic. Cook till soft.

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Add the carrot, zucchini, and mushrooms. Stir fry for a few minutes.

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Add the ketchup, tomato puree, fish sauce, chili paste, soy sauce, and salt and pepper to taste.

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Add the chicken and stir, cooking for about 5 minutes. Add the ginger again.

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Add the coconut milk. Allow to cook on low heat for about 15 minutes.

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Break the cashews in smaller pieces and add to the chicken. Let cook for another 15 minutes or so.

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Serve over basmati rice or Chinese noodles.

Delicious Bread Pudding

With the days getting colder and darker, I try to make getting up early something the kids can look forward to. I light up our dining room with candles and serve out some tasty treat. That sets the mood for the day and makes getting up, when it looks like the middle of the night, not such a bad thing.

candles

Some of my go to recipes, that I can make the night before, are Pumpkin Pie, Bread Pudding, Chocolate cake with coffee(decaf) custard, and Apple pie or Crumble. Then there are the ones I can prepare ahead of time and just bake them in the morning and serve them warm. Cinnamon rolls, Scones, Mini muffins, and so on.

Granted I am not always able to serve out a special breakfast, but I do try to make something about that time of day special.

On days I just put out cereal, we’ll have hot tea. Each child chooses his or her favorite flavor. On days I serve out bread and spreads, I make some hot chocolate.

When you are looking ahead to biking to school in freezing weather, I feel that little bit of extra ‘nice’ in the morning, is a perfect pick-me-up.

So on to the recent favorite of the breakfast yummies:

breadpud08

Bread pudding with butter vanilla sauce

Bread Pudding

Ingredients:

6 cups cubed bread

3 cups milk

3 eggs

½ cup sugar

2 tblsp. Vanilla sugar

2 tsp. Cinnamon

½ tsp. Nutmeg

Instructions:

Cut or rip up the bread into pieces. Measure out 6 cups in a large bowl.

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In a smaller bowl, combine the sugar, vanilla sugar, cinnamon, and nut meg.

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Add the eggs and mix. Add the milk.

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Pour egg/milk mixture into the bread and let it sit for about 5 minutes.

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Butter a 9×13 pan. Pour the bread mix in and bake for 20 to 30 minutes.

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It should not be runny, but neither should it look dry. Take it out a little before it is fully done.

Sauce

Ingredients:

¼ cup butter

1 tblsp. Flour

¼ cup sugar

1 tblsp. Vanilla sugar

1 tblsp. Vanilla extract

1 cup cream

Instructions:

breadpud06

Melt the butter on a low heat. Mix in the flour until well blended. Add the sugar, vanilla sugar, extract, and cream, mixing all the while. Bring to a boil and cook until thickened.

breadpud07

Stuffed Zucchini

Here is a nice simple way to add some variety to your veggie intake, stuffed zucchini. It can be either a side dish or a main vegetarian dish.

This recipe serves 2 to 8, depending on if it is a side or a main.

Ingredients:

2 zucchini halved

4 small mushrooms

½ onion

2 cloves garlic

1 tblsp. Butter

salt

pepper

paprika

parmsesan

grated cheese

Instructions:

stufzuc1

Cut the zucchini in half.

stufzuc2

Using a knife and/or spoon scoop out the inside, leaving just a thin edge.

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Cut up the parts you scooped out into small pieces. Chop the onion.

stufzuc4

Slice the mushrooms into small pieces.

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Melt the butter in a frying pan. Add the onions and garlic and cook until soft. Add the mushrooms. Next the zucchini bits and allow it to cook for a minute or so. Add the salt, pepper and paprika. Turn off the heat and allow it to cool.

stufzuc9

Mix in the grated cheese.

stufzucz

Fill the zucchini halves with the mixture. Top with Parmesan and bake about 15 minutes at 180° C, then under grill setting at 200° C till the Parmesan is lightly browned.

Because I Love My Duck

We are fortunate to live close to Germany where food is very reasonably priced. We find duck often at an extremely good cost, so are able to have it regularly.

I do not recall cooking duck much before 2012, so it took a few tries and some research, to make good tender meat and nice crispy skin. I finally settled on a method that has worked perfectly every time I used it. I based it off of the method described by Jessie Cross at The Hungry Mouse.

Roast Duck

If frozen, take your duck out 2 days ahead and let defrost in the refrigerator. If fresh, then never mind. In the morning remove the innards, wash the inside, and trim the extra fat on the ends. Place the innards in a pan and make duck stock for your gravy, and set aside the fat for use in frying your stuffing.

Put the duck in a baking tray and set in a sink. Pour boiling water over it. This is the first step to getting that crispy skin. Pat the duck dry with a paper towel and set it in the refrigerator until ready to cook.

duck

In the meanwhile prepare the stuffing. (see below for one idea)

Set oven to 150°C (300 F). Pull out your duck. With a sharp knife score along the top just cutting the fat. Take care not to go to deep. You do not want to cut through the skin, just the fatty part. Using a needle, poke all over the skin. This allows the fat to escape and will help make that skin crisp.

duck scored

Stuff your duck and seal the cavity with a skewer. I use a wooden one that I soak in water to keep it from burning too much.

Bake duck as follows: this goes for a 1.8 (4 lbs) to 2 kg (4.4 lbs) duck. For bigger then that, add one or two more half hours depending on the size of the duck. For a 2.4 kg, (5.2 lbs) I needed close to three hours.

150°C (300 F)

bake ½ hour; flip and poke

bake ½ hour; flip, poke, pour out fat

bake ½ hour; flip, poke

bake ½ hour; flip, poke, pour out fat, glaze

raise oven temperature 200°C (400 F)

20 min; carve

To finish, lay carved duck on top of the extra stuffing. If some pieces are undercooked, pop back in the oven for a few minutes. Serve.

Unfortunately I was too stressed to get dinner out before the baby woke up that I forgot all about my plan to take a pic of the finished duck. I will try to update this post sometime in the future if I manage to remember to grab the camera and shoot before serving.

Date and Cashew Stuffing

Ingredients:

duck fat scraps

1 tblsp. butter

½ cup chicken stock

½ cup pineapple juice

½ cup red wine

3 cloves of garlic

2 mushrooms chopped

5 or 6 large slices of bread, diced

100 gr. Dates

60 gr. Cashews chopped

salt and pepper

1 tsp. rosemary

stuffing ingredients

Instructions:

In a large frying pan, fry the duck skin to let loose the fat. When the skin is crisp, remove it from the pan. Add the butter. When melted fry the garlic, mushrooms, dates and cashews for a few minutes. Add the rosemary and bread. Fry till toasted. Turn off the heat and allow to cool. Add the broth, juice, and wine, salt and pepper. Mix. Stuff bird then put remaining stuffing in a shallow baking dish to heat up right before serving.

The finished product

The finished product

Glaze

Ingredients:

¼ cup honey

¼ cup molasses

1 tblsp. Worcester sauce

1 tblsp. Lemon juice

2 tblsp. Apple juice

Instructions:

Place all ingredients in a small pan and bring to boil. Allow to cook on a low heat until slightly thickened. Using a cooking paintbrush, glaze the duck when needed. You will have leftover glaze. Save it for the gravy.

Gravy

Ingredients:

1 ½ cup red wine

1 cup apple juice

1 cup duck broth

leftover glaze

salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

Put the red wine in a small sauce pan and bring to a light boil. Leave to boil till it is reduced by about ½ . Add the apple juice and the duck broth. Let boil about 5 minutes. Add the leftover glaze and salt and pepper as needed.

It’s Pumpkin Season

pumpkin pie

Over 10 years ago I made my first pumpkin pie. It was love at first taste for our family and is still a family favorite today.

The basic recipe came from my mother’s well worn Joy of Cooking book. A book I have used many a time before the internet became so all-encompassing. It was so used by me and my slew of sisters, 4 to be exact, that it had to be rebound 3 times and is currently missing the cover and spattered in all manner of food stuffs.

joycookbook

I tried this recipe with a variety of pumpkins; sugar pie, butternut, golden nugget, etc. Generally the flavor is the same, yum, but I settled finally with Butternut since I get more flesh per kilo. The skin is not as thick and heavy as other sorts.

butternut

Butternut Pumpkin aka Butternut Squash

Now that the season for pumpkins has started, that means pumpkin pie EVERY weekend. And I started buying double the pumpkins, so that I could freeze some each week in order to have pumpkin pie even once the season is over. Yay for futuristic thinking.

So, on to the recipe:

Pumpkin Pie

This makes one 9 inch round or a 8 x 12 pie

Ingredients:

Crust

2 cups flour

1 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp vanilla sugar

2/3 cup oil

3 tblsp. Cold milk

Filling

3 cups cooked pumpkin

2 ¼ cup condensed milk

¾ cup brown sugar

½ tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla sugar

2 tsp cinnamon

1/8 tsp nutmeg

1/8 tsp all-spice

1 pinch powdered cloves

3 eggs

Instructions:

Crust

Preheat oven to 180°C (350 F).

In a small bowl combine the flour, salt, cinnamon, and vanilla sugar. Mix well with a fork. In a cup mix oil and milk till creamy. Add the oil mixture to the flour and stir with a fork until fully combined. Dough is right when it sticks together when pressed.

Take the dough a bit at a time and press it into the pan. Bake for about 15 min.

piecrust

Dough nicely pressed into pan

Filling

Put the pumpkin and half the condensed milk into a blender/food processor.

pumpkinblender

 

Pulse till well blended. In a large bowl put the eggs, sugar, salt, vanilla sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves. Mix well. Pour in the blended pumpkin and finally add the rest of the condensed milk. Mix thoroughly.

Pour filling into pre-baked pie shell and bake for about 30 min. Pie is done when the surface looks firm, yet the center still wobbles a bit.  Take it out of the oven and let it cool to room temperature.Forgot to take a pic of the finished pie, but since I make it so much I’ll hopefully remember next time. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream, and a steaming cup of coffee. Soo good!