Dispensing Happiness

A good cook is like a sorceress who dispenses happiness.-Elsa Schiapirelli

That's me, the magical good cook.

Borrowing from my friend Dexygus, I've created my own food blog.

Read of my exploits in the kitchen! Salivate over the descriptions of fabulous desserts and savory meals I've concocted!

No, seriously...go ahead. It'll make my day.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Makes Your Hands Look Really Tiny


Today is Alex's (sub) teacher's birthday. Naturally, there had to be cake.

Chocolate Fudge Truffle cake, to be precise. Very rich, with very little in the way of dry ingredients. Brown sugar in large quantities, yes, Flour, not so much.

A chocolate frosting to top it off, and viola! A giant cupcake.

I'm most proud of the bottom, though. I didn't want to frost it, as that would make it impossible to transport. Instead, I poured heated candy melts over the turned-over bottom half, and let it dry.

The result was a lovely, thin, coating that looked not unlike a paper cupcake liner!

(and yes, it really is big-ish; about seven cups of batter to make that)

Still working on BBM; this whole not-sleeping thing has been slowing me down. That, and staring at the details for 117 people!

Patience, my friends...very soon. Promise.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Sweet Surrender


Rich, creamy...and so simple to make. These little beauties have won the battle of 'should I or shouldn't I'?, but it's a defeat I can live with...

I continue to work on Blogging by Mail; I hadn't anticipated such a large turn-out. Hope to have your swap information ready by Tuesday night.

Friday, September 26, 2008



Yes, I let Alex go to school like this.

In fact, it was my idea. They've been focusing on colors the past two weeks...one each day...and as I just happened to have wash-out-able hair color in the cupboard, well...how could I pass up the opportunity?

The green, I thihk, was the best. That's purple above. There was also red, but I didn't get a picture.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Blogging by Mail: What Now?


Well, holy cow. I knew you guys were excited about this, but I had no idea just how much.

We have a final total of 117 signed up!

Blogging by Mail: 10 Items or Less, you really love it!!

You're probably wondering what happens next. Excellent question.

The very first thing you should do is make sure your blog is listed on the 'who's signed up' page. If you don't see it there, and you sent your information to me prior to the cut-off date, there's a good chance the message got lost. Leave a comment letting me know, and try re-sending.

As for me, well, I'll be spending the next several days sorting through all the entries (designating them either international or domestic), and matching people up.

Due to the large number of people, and the fact I that I really do try to pair people who might actually get along in real life, this will take a few days. It's my hope to have the whole thing sorted out by the end of the work week.

No later than Monday, I will email everyone with their swap information. In the past, there's been a teeny bit of confusion regarding this, so I'll mention it now.

Generally, people keep the whole thing a secret until their packages get to their destinations. Your swap partner's blog information is included, along with miscellaneous bits, to give you some idea of who they are and what they might like. Most BBM'ers prefer to reveal their identities only after a box has been opened. It's a bit more fun that way, but don't feel you absolutely have to. If you want to chat with your swap partner, hey...I won't stop you. I don't think I actually could, if I wanted to, but just the same...

When your swap info arrives, you have until Saturday, 18 October to send out your package. Once you've mailed it, be sure to send me an email letting me know. I'll keep track of all the packages, as best I can, on the 'who's signed up' page.

Once those boxes start circling the globe, it's Tom Petty time.

You know, "the waiting is the hardest part".

So, keep checking here for updates, and be watching your inbox...it won't be long now!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Blog Party#38: Birthday Bash-Party Time!


I felt a little silly, designating this month's party 'my' birthday party. I guess it's because I haven't had a birthday party in...um. in uh...a number of years. Yes, it's a number alright...

But then I thought, why not? I loved the idea of celebrating my birthday with my friends, with good food & drinks, and all my favorite things.

And ladies...that's exactly what you've given me!

As the RSVP's came in, I became more and more excited. My friends were coming! And bringing really neat dishes, too...I knew this was going to be a good night.

And I want to make this a night to remember. So, a la the good folk of the Shire, because it is my birthday, I'm giving You a present!

I'm putting everyone's name on a slip of paper, tossing them in a hat (because, in our house, you'll find hats worthy of such things), and at the end of the night, drawing a name. And that lucky name will get a book!!

Tonight, I'm giving away 101 Champagne Cocktails, by Kim Haasarud. A wonderful little book filled with fantastic drink recipes. Perfect for all your (Blog) parties!

And who will pick the winning name? Why, the pups, of course. Donegal has the longest nose, so the first paper she sniffs wins!

But that's much later. Now, it's time to get the party going!

Music. We need music! And tonight, it's a mix of some of my favorite singers and albums.

First, the soundtrack to the Muppet Movie. Yes, you read that right. I love the Muppets. I love Jim Henson. And can you find a more beautiful tune than "Rainbow Connection"?

Next, I couldn't possibly party without my girl, Bif Naked. She's many of the things I aspire to be: tough yet sensitive, outspoken and unafraid, comfortable in her own skin yet still figuring out her place in the world.

And that's why her rockin'-with-a-soft-side album, SuperBeautifulMonster, finds a spot in the disc changer, too.

And if you aren't familiar with her work, check out these videos:

And something getting a lot of play around here lately, Mondo Exotica.

The rooms are strung with these nifty Batman lights, because...well, I love Batman.

As for the table, nothing too fancy this time. But, still appropriate: Wonder Woman party plates and cups!

I've never been the girliest of girls, so rather than sitting around doing each other's nails, tonight we're playing detective! Yep, we're going to do handwriting analysis, map our DNA, and even try our hand at facial reconstruction! Yes, I watch a lot of CSI; what's your point?

Oooh...but now it's time to focus on the food. I've barely eaten today, saving all my calories for the party. You gals have made some amazing bites!

Natashya's our very first guest tonight...and I get cake!
Serving up one of the prettiest birthday cakes I've seen in a while, her Chocolate Cherry Castle Cake will have us all asking for seconds, that's for sure.

And those M&M's-enhanced Chocolatinis are adorable!!!

Thank you so much, Natashya...I love it.

And here's Cakelaw...I'm so happy you could make it!

Oh; looks at those adorable little tarts she's brought: perfectly hand-held Apricot & Pistachio Tartlets. Why, we could almost call them health food, right? With half an apricot, it has to be good for you, yes? Hey, my party, my rules.

And clearly the word's gone out that I like peach-flavored things, as she serves up the first of our Peach Bellinis tonight. Delicious!

Such wonderful treats; thank you!

Lysy's here! I'm so glad you could be here tonight.

And she's giving me a real taste of English birthday fare, with a revamped Jelly; the jelly made with vegetarian gelatin substitute (thank you, for that!). And what better to go with than a home-made Cream Soda? Did you know that cream soda is one of my favorites?

Can't wait to dig in; thanks so much, Lysy!

Deb's here, and my goodness...someone give her a hand! Looks like she's brought a lot of food with her (hope you didn't have to pay to check that cooler).

All this for me? How sweet! She's set up a bit of a feast for the party, with her Chapatis & Dukka, Curried Carrot Dip & Potato Skordalia, and even Jelly Donuts & a special, tea-based, Red Cooler!

I feel so spoiled! Thank you, Deb...I mean it.

Hooray...Melody's here! Thanks to a return of electricity; it wouldn't have been the same without you.

And my, my...do try one of her 'adult' offerings, the appropriately festive Margarita Cupcakes! Pretty with a punch.

And why not? She's mixing up Margaritas in the kitchen...

Melody...thank you!!

Jeanne's the next guest; we don't 'see' each other as often as we'd like, so I'm thrilled she was able to come to my party!

And she's made these lovely little Sun-dried Tomato Pesto Twirls; yum! I love sun-dried tomatoes, and the twirls are so pretty!
Jeanne's paired these lovely confections with the always-popular Peach Bellini; you'll definitely want to get in line for this classic.

Thank you, Jeanne! Or maybe not...odds are, I won't be able to stop eating those things...

Look...it's Judith! Yay! And she's gone the 'classy' route tonight, serving up Wine & Cheeses; some gorgeous fruited cheeses, too. But Judith knew it couldn't be a birthday party without cake! So be sure to try a slice of her Coconut Angel Food Cake. I love angel food cake! And skipping the dessicated coconut was a good choice...

I'm really happy you could help me celebrate, Judith...thank you!

I know what it's like to busy (and vaguely, what it was like to be busy and have a 'career'). so I know not all my friends can make it to Blog Party each month. Which is why I'm overjoyed that my dear Morven was able to come tonight!

She's helping us celebrate with a decidedly 'kiwi' treat: Lolly Cake. It's so pretty, so colorful, it's almost a shame to eat it. I did say, almost.

Morven, I do appreciate you being here...thank you!

I'm always happy to see Haalo (who's photographic skills leave me with equal parts awe & hunger), and once you get a look (or smell? taste?) of her 'gifties', you will be, too.

Croissants may be one of my top five indulgences, so her use of them in these stunning Croissant & Apricot Butter Puddings may lead to an all-out girl fight over he tray!

And I'm equally excited to try the Mandarin Sorbet Float. So simple, but my kind of flavor impact.

Haalo...thank you so much for coming!

Silvermoon Dragon was woed she'd shown up too late, but I never turn a friend away. Besides, one look at her PERFECT for me Cheesecake Truffles, and how could I not drag the poor woman into the house?

It's cheesecake. Rolled in chocolate. Um...yeah.

Thank you for coming, Silvermoon Dragon...and don't expect any left-overs.

Our last guest (and just one of several September birthday sisters here tonight) worked so hard to get here on time, she was almost rendered speechless! But fortunately, J caught her breath and was able to tell us all about the amazing treats she brought. I'm always happy to see you, J!

Now, let's see...there's the beautiful Beef Carpaccio-topped Cheese Bites, teensy Quails Eggs with Dipping Salt, Dragee'd Belgium Chocolate Ice Bites, gorgeous Raspberry-Centered, Heart-Shaped Raspberry Jellies, crowd-pleasing Chocolate Brownie Cupcakes, and a marvelous Chambord Sparkler. Yeah, raspberries get me every time.

J...you know I'm glad you're here. Thank you!!

I know, I know...I didn't need to make anything. You guys more than took care of that.

But I'm still me, so...

Taco Dip Cups

Not something I got to eat often as a kid, but I always did love those layered taco dips. They're kind of messy, though. So I decided to reconfigure the whole thing. Flour tortillas, shaped into cups and baked in the oven. Once cooled, spoon in some spiced refried beans, a cooling mix of sour cream & cream cheese, then salsa, lettuce, tomatoes and shredded cheese.

Delicious! And a lot easier to eat.

I was trying to think of things I wanted to have, for the party. I wrestled with that for a while. I had a few, disconnected, ideas floating around. I love wontons, especially if they're fried. I love potatoes, in just about every form.

What I came up with doesn't really have a name. Mashed potatoes with some grated Jarlsberg cheese. Wrapped in wontons, fried, and served with garlic butter.

Too, too good. A tad greasy (but we have plenty of napkins), but fantastic.

Mini Whoopie Pies!

Every once in a great while, my mom would make whoopie pies. I can't find the words to describe how much I love these little cream-filled chocolate delights.

You can try though; I made plenty!

And for my drink, I've put on a pot of Chocolate Chip tea. Gorgeous, rich, and chocolate-y. You'll love it as much as I do, I'm sure of it.

Oh...I am so happy! This is the best birthday party I've had in, well, maybe ever. All my pals, such good food, it's been perfect. I can't thank you all enough for indulging me in a little 'celebrate Stephanie' time. It's just been so fun!

And Donegal has just trotted in. Time to pick a winner!

And which lucky lady gets 101 Champagne Cocktails? Donegal has sniffed out...Deb! Congratulations...I'll get that in the mail this week.

Now, who's going to stick around to clean up???? (just kidding)

And coming soon...details for October's party...

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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Minimalist Sandwich


This is just a sandwich.

A good sandwich, to be fair. But a sandwich, nonetheless.

Chicken, marinated in olive oil and garlic and lemon juice, grilled. Topped with slices of mozzarella, tomatoes marinated in the same (but different bowl, 'cause, ew) mixture, and chopped basil, all on a grilled ciabatta roll.

Kind of like boxing up the very last of summer, and serving it on a bun.

Help me get through the pain of turning a year older with this month's Blog Party---we're having a Birthday Bash!

Today's your last day to RSVP to join the fun.

Blogging by Mail is back! Sign up for blogdom's favorite global goody swap with 10 Items or Less.

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Stop by the Pie Hole (as in Shut Your)


Last fall, we found ourselves fairly underwhelmed by the new television schedule. More reality (which we do not watch), proceedurals, and not-very-funny sitcoms.

There were two bright spots, however...and oddly enough, both of those shows featured a character named Chuck.

From the very first time we glimpsed that promo for Pushing Daisies, we knew had to watch.

There was something about the look of the show. The boldness of the colors, the sets, and those faces! I know I'm not the only gal who immediately fell in love with Lee Pace, despite that whole being-married thing.

So we told TiVo to record the season, just in case we didn't get to the couch in time (having a small child requires a flexible schedule, you know), and planted our backsides in front of the television.

What we saw, each and every Wednesday night, was true beauty. Stories that touched the heart, while injecting just enough whimsy to keep meloncholy from setting in. Characters you can't help but love, no matter what they do. Visuals that stick with you.

I'll admit, I cried a little that first night. It's a thing with me. Usually reserved for live performances, tears appear in direct response to a strong emotional impresssion. Theater, concerts, even baseball games: as it's beginning, I cry. It's a happy cry, but it does require explaining.

Whenever I'm genuinely moved by something, all that happiness bubbles up until it spills out via the tear ducts. And Pushing Diasies left me with wet cheeks.

I love Ned, I adore Chuck (I also slightly covet her wardrobe, especially the 40's-50's inspired outfits). Olive required a bit of patience, but now I just want to hug her. Emerson's wondeful. And as I'm owned by five dogs myself, I want to take Digby home.

And the Aunts! Love the Aunts. Swoosie rocks.

It's such an incredible show, and I fear that words such as 'magical' have kept viewers at bay. It's so much more than a gimmick; it's really genius. The writing and acting and set design and music and voice-over come together to make something Great.

It's one of just a few shows we're looking forward to as the fall season begins, so when I got an email about a promotional tour for Pushing Daisies, with a mobile Pie Hole(!), I felt I had to do my part.

Hitting select cities across the United States (West Coast, I'm jealous), you can stop by, see the Pie Hole, and of course...get pie!!

See more photos from the tour here.

To help spread the word, I made Ned's Apple Pie. I confess I'm not a pie person. I never ate it growing up, and I've only been baking pies about six years. But this was for a good cause, right?

Easy recipe (the crust was from my Wartime Wednesdays cookbook), with excellent results. Surprisingly, no cinnamon. Adding it in could only make it better.

I served this up for breakfast this morning. Despite the generous size, Matt didn't leave any pie on the plate when he pushed back from the table...

If you happen to be in one of the areas the Mobile Pie Hole is visiting, do check it out and tell me about it!

And of course...Wednesday, 1 October, 8:00 PM on ABC: the new season of Pushing Daisies begins!!

Help me get through the pain of turning a year older with this month's Blog Party---we're having a Birthday Bash!

RSVP to join the fun.

Blogging by Mail is back! Sign up for blogdom's favorite global goody swap with 10 Items or Less.

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Monday, September 15, 2008

Summer Jambalaya


Taking full advantage of this wonderful, miraculous 'I'll try everything' phase Alex is going through, we've been trotting out as many of our favorite dishes as we can. For a kid who wouldn't eat rice (beyond sushi) two years ago, he's been happily consuming fried rice, Indian, and even jambalaya.

A 'fast' recipe from Food & Wine, it's fairly basic. Meats are browned (chicken & Andouille for Matt, Veat & Boca 'sausages' for the two of us), onions cooked to that gloriously soft and tender stage where they almost dissolve before your eyes, a few spices, corn and Arborio. Vegetable broth, simmer till rice is tender.

I wasn't sure what he'd think of it. I made 'our' version much blander than called for; like me, Alex's spice tolerance is pretty low.

He ate with gusto. He gave dual thumbs up. And we can add one more dish to the Alex-friendly arsenal.

Help me get through the pain of turning a year older with this month's Blog Party---we're having a Birthday Bash!

RSVP to join the fun.

Blogging by Mail is back! Sign up for blogdom's favorite global goody swap with 10 Items or Less.

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Sunday, September 14, 2008

Blogging by Mail: One Week Left for Sign-Ups!


The list keeps growing, and there's only one week left to sign up for Blogging by Mail: 10 Items or Less.

Read all about it here, and be sure to sign up soon!

Help me get through the pain of turning a year older with this month's Blog Party---we're having a Birthday Bash!

RSVP to join the fun.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Scenes from a Birthday


It's been a good weekend. I've taken tea, watched a classic rock-n-roll film at an actual, old-style movie palace while doing good (with pre-show entertainment courtesy of the Mighty Wurlitzer!). There was breakfast in bed, and I was just generally treated like a princess.

Thank you for all the good wishes! And continue to celebrate with me...

Help me get through the pain of turning a year older with this month's Blog Party---we're having a Birthday Bash!

RSVP to join the fun.

Blogging by Mail is back! Sign up for blogdom's favorite global goody swap with 10 Items or Less.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Wartime Wednesdays: Grape Ice



LEARN TO MEASURE ACCURATELY---All the measurements in this book, and in most modern cook-books and magazines, are level. It will not do to use a heaping teaspoon, tablespoon or cup when a level one is meant. To change proportions by wrong measuring causes poor results, for example:

Too much flour will make a cake dry and crumbly, bread solid and heavy, sauces thick and pasty.
Too much fat will make cakes oily and may cause them to fall; it will make grease-soaked doughnuts and greasy gravies and sauces.
Too much sugar will make a cake with a hard crust, or a sticky cake; it makes soft, sticky jelly.
Too much liquid will make a cake that falls easily.
Too much soda gives a disagreeable taste and bad color to breads and cakes.

---The Victory Binding of the American Woman's Cook Book, Wartime Edition, published 1943

Sweet and refreshing, and a nice way to deal with 90+ degree heat.

Sugar and water are boiled five minutes, add in grape, orange and lemon juices. Mix, strain and freeze.

The book gives no directions for that, assuming you know what to do. Fortunately, I did.

Couldn't be easier, so quick, and definitely hits the spot. That overheated, I thought this was supposed to be the beginning of autumn, spot.

Help me get through the pain of turning a year older with this month's Blog Party---we're having a Birthday Bash!

RSVP to join the fun.

Blogging by Mail is back! Sign up for blogdom's favorite global goody swap with 10 Items or Less.

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Monday, September 01, 2008

Blog Party#38: Birthday Bash


Happy September, everybody! And as we start a new month, it's time to unveil the latest Blog Party theme.

Someone's having a birthday this month...

Not long ago, I realized I'd not had a birthday party since I was ten. I really don't want to tell you how many years ago that was (although Alex would be quite willing to share the information, the little dear), but let's say it's been a while.

I miss getting together with friends and eating cake and wearing silly hats and all the other things associated with birthday parties.

So I started to ask myself, 'what's stopping you from throwing your own birthday bash'?

Yeah, what.

So, my wonderful and creative friends, I'm about to commit an uncharacteristically selfish act: I'm making this month's Blog Party a Birthday Bash, for me!

Oh, yes I am.

For September (already dubbed 'Birthday Month' in our house), we're having a Birthday party. With fun drinks and festive appetizers, and all my favorite things!

Don't feel that you're limited by the fact I don't drink or eat food with a face; it's not about feeding me, so much as feeding the guests. Make it fun & delicious, and that's my kind of gift.

So, want to come to my Birthday Bash? RSVP no later than Thursday, 18 September to thehappysorceress at gmail dot com. The Bash will be held that Saturday, 20 September.

Start thinking fun, start thinking birthday. And help me celebrate checking a new box under 'age'! Hope to see you there.

Blogging by Mail is back! Sign up for blogdom's favorite global goody swap with 10 Items or Less.

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