5 Step One-pot Macaroni Meat-sauce Madness

Lately, I have discovered a new found obsession with creating all in one pot recipes. I find that everything you do in one pot comes out super creamy and hearty, while remaining super simple and not too time consuming.

For this recipe I have decided to stay traditional.

Before I start with the 5 steps, I want to review the pan I used.

This was my first time using the T-fal Pan and I love it! You can find it on Amazon by seapanrching “T-fal pans” or by going to t-fal website. This pan comes with a neat little red dot in the middle which is a thermo-sensor that indicates when the pan is heated. This was convenient, but the pan gets super hot and holds heat, so be careful! I love non-stick pans, but some take forever to brown food (like my copper pan). This pan really DOES NOT stick and it DOES brown the food. Also, it can be put into the oven because the handle is oven safe.

Ingredients;

  • 1 lb or so of chopped meat (substitute meat would work too)
  • 2 1/2 cups of water
  • 2 cups of sauce (I use a very thick sauce, almost a paste so I use more water because of this. The sauce is called MIDS and it is amazing)
  • Pinch of basil
  • 1 box of pasta (any will do)sauc
  • Mozzarella cheese (I used a heart handful)
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

MID’S SAUCE; I live in FL and am not sure if this sauce is available everywhere, but it is definitely worth purchasing online if not. It costs about $4.50 and is worth every penny. I don’t only say it’s worth it because the taste is AH-MAZING, but it’s so thick you usually add water. This makes the jar last twice as long. The only time I do not mix equal parts of water is if I am making pizza or zucchini lasagna which will release water on its on.

My 5 simple steps;

  1. First, brown your minced garlic.
  2. Add chopped meat and brown.
  3. Add water, sauce, macaroni, spices and cover.
  4. You may periodically need to add more sauce or water depending on the type of macaroni you are using and how it soaks up the liquids.
  5. Toss on some mozzarella and cover again until melted.

You could add a side of ricotta cheese, if your feeling super hearty!

That’s all folks!

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Creamy lemon chicken picatta

Coming from a 100% Italian family, I love my pasta dishes. I also love my simple dishes like pasta and sauce. I wanted an easy way to create chicken picatta. As delicious as it is, it’s very time consuming. I have seen several alterations of this dish on Pinterest and I have combined them to result in the simplest and most delicious recipe for me and hopefully you!

I like things easy and most recipes require a whole lot of exacts. I don’t like exact measurements because I think I should be able to add 5 chicken thighs instead of 3 if I want more chicken!

For this recipe I decided not to put amounts for some of these ingredients; like the chicken for example… use what you want! Celebrate your freedom! My general rule was one breast/thigh for each person eating.

Ingredients you’ll need; in the order you’ll need them (how convenient)

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  • Olive oil (I lightly covered the pan, about 2 tablespoons)
  • Skinless chicken breast or thighs (I used about 6 pieces); cut into chunks
  • 1 tablespoon of garlic
  • 1 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/4 cup chicken broth (I used low sodium, taste preference)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice (more can be added depending on how lemony you want it)
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • About 3 cups dry pasta (I used a box of veggie pasta for color and taste)
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese (3/4 cup if you ❤ cheese)
  • 2oz cream cheese (the foiled bars are marked with ounces)
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • Pinch of salt/pepper

5 Steps to creating this amazing dish!

  1. In a pan drizzle olive oil to cover the bottom. Toss some minced garlic in the pan to brown. Then add all of your chicken chunks and cook until browned (near done), but not too done or it’ll be chewy!
  2. Add your heavy cream, chicken broth, water, lemon juice, lemon zest and dry pasta.
  3. Cover it up! Let it boil for a bit to cook any raw chicken left and then leave on a low to medium heat.
  4. Once the macaroni is almost cooked (About 15 minutes) you can add your parmesan cheese, cream cheese, capers and salt to taste-may not be needed.
  5. Wallah! Top with some pretty lemons for deco and you have…

Delicious creamy chicken picatta in one pot

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Searching for answers from my fellow bakers and candy makers?!

Gold Chocolate

I am working on a project for a pretzel order I have received. I know what I need the chocolate to look like… however I do not know how to make it the color I need! GOLD

I have read many tutorials, but I cannot try all of them, so I want to see what my best option is;

  • Using gold highlighter dust, lightly dust the gold onto the chocolate
  • Using gold dust, spread Crisco over the face of the chocolate and dust
  • Using water, mix liquid into the dust to create a paint; paint chocolate
  • Using airbrush, airbrush chocolate with gold
  • Using Wilton’s canned gold spray, spray chocolate

Now, while all of these sound fabulous, I need to know which will create the most vibrant color (as if the chocolate IS GOLD).

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Second, I have found 3 ways to use the chocolate base;

  • Use white chocolate
  • Use yellow chocolate
  • Use brown chocolate

Of course they all make sense and each review says one color is better than the other, but which will create a true GOLD?

Tikiheads: For my order I will need to make these tiki heads gold and I do not want to take away from any details in the face. mold1I have purchased these molds from Etsy. The quality is awesome and they were the only real looking tiki heads I could find. Most molds were not as detailed. They shipped quick and I have a good feeling about them! I will review these with finished product. The seller’s name is MOLDMUSE;

MOLDMUSE ETSY

Melting Chocolate

I am seeking advice on the best chocolate to use for creating molds and for dipping. I currently use Wilton’s melting wafers aSnapchat-819937607nd they work fine. I however do not like how thick the chocolate is and this sometimes makes it hard to cover items to appear smooth and shiny. I have purchased their EZ melts product to make it easier to dip, fingers crossed! I will review it soon.

mold

I have also tried another brand of chocolate which is Ghirardelli. This chocolate is extremely smooth and delicious, but it is a bit pricey; $5.99 for a 10oz bag compared to $3.49 for Wilton 12oz. The Wilton dries with no shine and the Ghirardelli dries with a really nice shine.

I have also heard of 2 other brands which I will eventually try and review; Merkens and Candiquik. Any comments on these 2 brands would be great. I want to try and purchase in bulk, however if the chocolate sucks I would prefer to not have pounds of it laying around.

Hope to hear some good ideas! Happy melting!

Wedding cake, oh wedding cake; how you taught me well. Advice from a decorator.

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Terrified of my first wedding cake, I needed all the advice I could get. Of course the first wedding cake order I had to fulfill was a 3 tiered cake with stacked poles and polka dots, lucky me. Sounds simple… I know, but every dot must align perfectly, every  layer must not slide and each stack must sit exactly centered. I saw a photo of the order and felt my heart sink. I knew how to ice a cake, draw designs, make flowers, airbrush, whatever you needed. I did not know how to STACK a cake! Eeek, decorator fears.

What I learned about wedding cakes

  • First, you cannot worry about a collapsing cake because SHIT happens and it’ll just make you more nervous.
  • It is important to create EVENLY filled layers. Never put too much filling or you face a chance of sliding cake.
  • I realized the importance of a crumb ice (thin layer icing around the cake first) in order to stop any crumbs from getting in the actual icing layer. Also, it acts like glue.

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  • I always trim the brown off every wedding layer, who wants brown crumbs in white icing?

NOTE: THE CAKE IN THIS PHOTO WAS FOR CAKE POPS, I KNOW ITS A MESS!

cake

  • Trim, trim, trim. Make sure each layer is exactly as tall and wide as the previous layer. I would measure each layer up against my poles. Keep the cake a bit below the top of the pole you measure with. You want to make sure the filling doesn’t bring the cake higher than the poles.
    • Do not put the crumb iced cake into the freezer to stiffen. I see some people do this, so I tried it. BAD BAD BAD. I got tons of bubbles in the icing and I could not smooth them out. The cake is too cold so the icing creates bubbles. (Also, if there is any air brushing going on and you put a cake in the freezer, you’ll get ton’s of dripping!)
    Inserting poles; insert them all the way (this is why we measure poles to cake height). The poles should NEVER come out from top of cake.
    • I normally ice my cake on the spinning wheel, but if you ice on the boards make sure you poke your hole first! What I mean by this is…. the board must sit on top of the plate and not move, if you poke a hole in the board before you put cake on it, your life will be much easier:

Stick plate and board together and press till it pokes a small hole in middle of the board

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How to find the middle, for a perfectly centered cake!

• Poke your holes in the boards like above and ice all of your cakes completely first!
• Set the bottom cake down lower than you. What I mean is set the cake possibly on a chair or a lower counter; somewhere so it is easy to visibly see the middle (this always made it easier for me, but not a must).
• Grab a plate and LIGHTLY drop the plate on the cake so you can use the pillar inserts to mark places for the poles later.

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LIGHTLY drop the plate the OPPOSITE WAY (upside-down) SHOWING IN PICTURE

BEFORE YOU PUSH PLATE DOWN; grab a ruler and measure the edge of the cake to the plate on 4 different sides. Try to get each the same measurement away. I lightly tap the plate till I find the exact middle (that is why I say lightly lay the plate so it can be moved).
• Once you find the middle… PUSH.. don’t go too crazy, but enough to see indents.
• Now that its marked, grab the poles and push them down into the cake!

DONT BE LAZY<——————- MEASURE EVERYTHING

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Quick tips

• For adding flowers in middle of tiers; first FREEZE roses and use buttercream for height.
• If making a cream cheese wedding cake; add a little buttercream to make it easier to work with.
• When inserting pillars; make sure the bottom attachments that sit in the cake are facing the RIGHT DIRECTION! I have put them in upside-down before.
• Mark the bottom of the board wherever the front of the wedding cake is (for customers)
• Dampen a flat scrapper to create a smoother finish.
• Use a sheer bendable piece of plastic to create rounded edges of cake.
• For any designs that must be evenly placed; measure and indent first.
• Soak your spatula in hot water to cut easier.
• Aerate buttercream more for smoother icing (smooth icing to ice).
• Aerate buttercream less, with less simple syrup; for firmer buttercream (for defined flowers).
• Make sure to make ENOUGH COLORED icing for the entire cake, so everything matches.

Hope this is helpful! Email me for any questions or advice. I have made many mistakes and found ways around them.

meliiicakes@yahoo.com

Cool down with an ICE CREAM cake pop!& all the messy mistakes involved

For the 4th of July I decided to make some festive summer treats. I wanted to use confetti cake and confetti melting chocolate to give it an authentic appeal. I thought to myself how simple would these be; cake, icing, chocolate, cone, wahla!

Beware:
Cake pops sound super simple.. but if you don’t read first you CAN mess them up big time. I am an experienced cake decorator and I handled pastries and chocolates constantly, but this is so simple, it might actually end up difficult. (if that’s possible)

My list of products;
1. Confetti mix
2. Confetti melting chocolate
3. Dark melting chocolate
4. egg carton for drying
5. waffle cones (you will cut them smaller)
6. Sprinkles
7. Cherry sours
8. Icing

cake 3

Mistakes happen and we learn from them, here are mine ;

BEWARE of ONION BALLS: if you have smelly things in your freezer, DO NOT store cake in there. My boyfriend had cut a bag of onions and left them in the fridge. In the morning, I tasted my confetti balls and they turned into ONION BALLS, DISGUSTING!
I had to run to the store and buy all new product, but it gave me a chance to mess up my first batch and learn from it! STAY POSITIVE!

FIRST MISTAKE: I stored cake in a fridge of smelly onions = onion flavored cake
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It looked pretty =[ tasted awful

SECOND MISTAKE: I added way too much icing into the cake and it made slop. This is absolutely the WRONG consistency.
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THIRD MISTAKE: I did not use powdered sugar to mix my SLOP and it was a mess. The cake should NOT do this on your hands!

 

Now, to start over

1. I baked my 2nd cake and once finished I cooled it in the other freezer (no onions in there). After it was pretty cold, I trimmed all the brown off the cake! No one wants burnt cake pieces in their pops =[
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2. Then I mixed in just a few teaspoons of icing. I took a spoon and smashed the cake into the icing until it started to form crumbles. You will see the consistency is thicker, like real dough. I used about 3 tablespoons. Notice the difference from the first picture
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3. Next I rolled my pretty cake dough into little balls, not too big because the dipping chocolate will make them even bigger!
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4. Chill these in the fridge or freezer and make your way to dipping. At first I used a stick and then switched to a spoon because I didn’t mind the bottoms being flat, I knew they would sit in cones.

5. Once you let the cake balls dry on a wax paper, measure one up to a cut cone. You will need to cut maybe 2 or 3 cones first to measure. I used a large serrated knife and cut VERY SLOW! This makes the cute little sugar cones =]

6. Once you cut all your cones you can dip the ends in chocolate and place the dry cake ball on top of the WET chocolate so it holds it in place.

7. Cut your egg cartons. These are perfect for holding the cones and drying.
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8. Transfer them to the freezer to harden quickly.

9. Heat dark chocolate and pour into a little baggie for drizzling. Drizzle over top of pops slowly. Add sprinkles and cherry while they are still wet to stick.

10. AND DONE!

Now, since you know my awful mistakes you’ll be ice cream cake pop pro! The end result is definitely worth the work!
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I got 99 problems and pretzels are one!

My pretzel has a flat ass…
These issues seem so minor, but they are things we never think of when making specialty pretzels. I was a cake decorator, how hard could it be to decorate a pretzel? You’d be surprised!

1. Coloring melting chocolate all wrong
You need to master the melting chocolate. I found that you SHOULDN’T add food color to melting chocolate because it sort of breaks up the chocolate. It appeared fine at first, until I started dipping and it started drying. It had almost bubbles and discoloration in it, it did not dry smooth and silky. After this I decided to stick with colored chocolate, unless I need a specific color. You can also mix colored chocolates to make different colors.
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2. Wilton double sided melting bowl mistake
I purchased the Wilton dipping bowl. I was originally using a double boiler, but I figured this would make dipping easier and more convenient. I also could dry the chocolate in this bowl and because its silicon, I would just crack it out by bending the pot until the chocolate broke in pieces. If you purchase this bowl for dipping it comes with 2 bowls. One has 2 slots for dipping, I assume for 2 different colors. This is ridiculous, unless you need a TINY amount of chocolate. Not many things fit in this tiny space they call a dipping pot. It is literally a sleeve to dip nothing longer than 2 inches or wider than a pretzel. My suggestion is buy 2 regular bowls (they sell them separate).

3. To drizzle or not to drizzle?
By this I mean both sides. I noticed when I drizzle one side of the pretzel, the back is not drizzled. I thought… well, I couldn’t leave the blank undrizzled because what if the pretzel turns over in the bag, what if someone sees the back? I gave it a shot and drizzled both sides. I let one size dry and drizzled the back side. The finished product was…. well, not good. On each side you could see a drizzle that ended half way. It didn’t look right, it looked like someone had started to drizzle and stopped half way. I assume people just leave the back of the pretzel plain. For now, I will leave it plain, until I find a better way, suggestions would be great!
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5. Sprinkle globs?!
I made the mistake of “sprinkling” my pretzels before the chocolate started to dry a bit. I found if you sprinkle the pretzel heavily before its a little dry, it’ll all fall off in “globs.” The more sprinkles you plan to use (rolling pretzels in sprinkles) or the heavier the sprinkle (jimmies) you are better off giving it a minute or 2!

4. My pretzel’s got a flat ass?!
The first few times I dried my pretzels I laid them all out on wax paper and threw them in the fridge. The bottoms are FLAT. I needed a way to dry them standing. My dad came up with a brilliant idea. Egg cartons;
-You turn the carton upside down
-Cut slits in opposite directions on each egg holder
-Stick your pretzels in the slots and WALLAH!

HAPPY DIPPING!