Friday, March 1, 2019

Tales of The Traveling Tote and A Giveaway

Welcome to our March edition of 
Tales of the Traveling Totes,
where twelve of us galavant off to
anywhere and everywhere. 

My bags are packed!  
Actually my bag has stayed packed and
will for most of January-March as
we head out almost every weekend.

I bet you can guess by what Miss Madi K is
carrying where we are off to, and what we will
be doing.

This is taken from my back deck and the
arrow points between the two mountains
where the canyon road goes up to Sundance.

Sundance Mountain Resort started having
Alpine skiing in 1944, and Robert Redford
purchased it in 1968.  It spans 5,000 acres
on the back side of Mount Timpanogos.  

We see the front side of 
Mount Timpanogos from 
our back yard.
This is a picture on a pretty day.

We have had record snows this year, so
skiing is great.  This was a controlled
snow slide (meaning the County caused it)
that blocked the canyon road for two days.

I just read that we got an additional 14 inches
in the last 24 hours up at Sundance.

I brought along some MacKenzie-Childs
to show off the snow!

We look right out at the ski run. 

The snow has been right up to
the deck railing twice this year.

But we can stay warm on the inside with
a nice hot chocolate,

or just stay warm inside!

Miss Madi K and I prefer inside,
by the fire.

Sundance is only fifteen minutes up
the canyon from us, but if we keep going
for about another thirty minutes,
we arrive in Park City, which has another
three ski resorts.

They helped host the 2002 Winter Olympics.

Park City started out in the 1800's as a silver
mining town, and is very upscale and trendy,

but it has kept its quaint, old-west
flavor on Main Street.
(Photo by Historic Park City)

We like to run up from Sundance for
dining and shopping once in a while.

These cute booths were in Whole Foods -
they look like ski lifts!

We also like to stop in for dining
in Midway and Heber.  Both are
on the way up the canyon, and have
great restaurants.

So as long as it keeps snowing, this is 
where you might find us on weekends,
skiing, drinking hot chocolate and eating bon bons!

Now on to the fun giveaway!!!

Aren't these MC's bunny candles so
adorable?!!  Visit Cherry Kay and Carrie
Ann Hall and leave a comment to have
a chance to win them.  Good Luck!

We hope there is no snow by the 
late Easter this year - maybe the grass
will be green and beautiful for our 
Easter Egg Hunt!!!

**“Thoughts and prayers for our fellow toter RJ @ Sketchy Reader as she is away caring for a family member"

Take a few minutes to visit the other
ladies who have been off traveling
with their totes.  I love reading about the
places they have been - often places I have
never heard of.

Debbie with Miss Aurora @ Mountain Breaths 
Emily with Miss Courtney ChildsThe French Hutch
 Patti with Miss Kenzie @ Pandora's Box
Jenna with Miss Coquille @The Painted Apron
Linda P with Miss Lola @ Life and Linda
Rita with Miss Luna C Panoply 
Sarah with Miss Merri Mac @ Hyacinths for the Soul
Jackie and Miss Madi K @ Purple Chocolat Home
Cherry Kay and Carrie Ann Hall @ 

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Parisian Chocolate Eclairs

I admit I have been a chocolate eclair
lover since I first started baking as a
young girl, but I have always been just
a little disappointed in how they turned
out and how soggy they became.

Then I went to Paris and experienced
the visual delight of rows and rows
of thin, gorgeous eclairs and I knew
I was missing something.

Here is a photo I took in Paris in 2015
at Christmas time.  Of course we sampled
quite a few.

You know how your computers and phones
are suspiciously tracking you and listening in
on conversations?  Well, we are planning a
trip to Europe with our kids and all of a
sudden my Pinterest is just swarming with
pins of eclairs.

I was captured by a photo and the title
of a post by Food Nouveau
on how to make eclairs.  After reading
it, the recipe for the pastry seemed very
typical, but Marie had some tips that
were a little unusual, so I decided to give
her recipe and tips a try, and follow the
instructions exactly - I am not so good at
that, but when we took our pastry classes
in Paris, we learned how exacting that 
teacher was, so I decided to throw some
of my casualness out the door and be
more exacting.

I also decided to pipe my dough out into
thin strips to make them more like my
Parisian favorites, rather than spooning
them out like we always did growing up.

After boiling the water, butter and milk, Marie
said to let the mix cool for about 5 minutes,
stirring a few times to let some of the steam
out.  Well, that seemed logical - remove steam
and I would have a less moist pastry.

Marie's Choux Dough
(A variation)

1/2 C. water
1/2 C. milk
1 cube butter, cut into pieces
1/4 tsp salt
1 C. flour
4 large eggs

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Bring the water, milk, butter and salt to a boil
in a saucepan.  Stir in the flour and let it cook
for about a minute to let moisture escape (ahh,
that steam escaping thing again.)  It will form
into a ball.

Remove from heat and place in bowl of
your mixer.  Let cool five minutes and
stir occasionally during this cooling time.
You will see a lot of steam escape as
you do this.

Place bowl on mixer stand with paddle
attached and beat in one egg at a time.
It may separate, but continue until all
eggs are used up.  It will be a nice
glossy mass now.

Pipe into eclairs or puffs, on parchment paper.
I used my half inch sized round tip, and piped
them about 6 inches long.

Bake at 400 for 15 minutes, then reduce temperature
to 350 and bake another 20 minutes.  

Let cool on a rack.

We had always just cut our eclairs in half, but
I wanted mine to be Parisian, so I made
three holes in the bottoms and piped
my chocolate whipped cream inside.

Not certain this would work, I had to make a
test one to see if the filling got all the way in.
Hooray - it worked.

Then they were dipped in chocolate ganache.
These were beautiful just this way, but
I wanted to have some fun.

After the ganache had set, I piped some
wonderful chocolate buttercream on
trying out some of my new Russian tips.
(They take a little practice, but I liked
the way they turned out.)

The secret is my new one and only cocoa
powder.  I honestly can't remember which
blogger recommended it, but there is nothing
like it and I have tried all of the expensive
brands.  This runs on Amazon just under $20
and gives everything chocolate such a 
wonderful flavor (when paired with Mexican 
vanilla, of course.)  I get so many
compliments on my chocolate buttercream
and I have to give all the credit to this cocoa.

Chocolate Buttercream
1 C. softened butter (I always use salted)
4 C. powdered sugar
1/4 - 1/2 C. Extra Brute Cocoa - depending
on how dark you want it.
2 tsp. vanilla
5-6 T. milk

Mix all with paddle attachment until
smooth.  To use the Russian tips you need
a stiffer frosting, so I added about 1/3 C.
additional powdered sugar, or less liquids.

For the filling, you can do whatever
you want, pastry cream, pudding, or
whipped cream.  I whipped two cups of
cream and added 1/2 C. powdered sugar and
1/3 C. of my chocolate ganache.

Now I want to try all kinds of other
eclairs that are popping up on my Pinterest feed!!

Thanks for stopping by for a little chocolate.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Butterfly Cake for Baby's 1st and Baby Shower

Sweet baby Emery turned one this week,
so I made a Butterfly Smash Cake for her.

We set the cake up in her bedroom under
her darling canopy that she loves to go
play in.

At first she was only interested in playing 
with her pearls.

We had to introduce her to the cake.

It is amazing how quickly they grow and
how much they change in the first year.

We decided to move the cake to the
floor.  Just like the darling little lady
she is, she delicately ate her cake.

But it didn't take long for her to let us
know she had had enough sweets.

I had made the same cake a few days before for
a baby shower for Amy from our craft group.

Everyone in the craft group helped.
Laura hosted it and set this stunning table,
 Joanne created the beautiful balloon
garland, Karen did the flowers, Brenda
organized us on the food.

It was like a giant charcuterie table.

I love this shot with the table reflected in
Laura's mirror.

Crafty and meticulous Brenda and Karen
made this gorgeous quilt for Amy's baby.

It was fun using the same cake inspiration
for two baby events in the same week.

There is nothing like celebrating darling
little girls!

I will be posting this with

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

MacKenzie Childs Pie Plate Winner

Happy Valentine's Week to the lucky winner
of this giveaway of a 9.5 inch 
MacKenzie-Childs pie plate (or dish,
or bowl, or whatever you want to use it for.)

I used the random number generator to
choose the winner, and the lucky lady is....

I think she is going to love this.  I know
I love mine!

I love how the pattern changes on the underside,
and the gold rim.

And I am even including a couple of
bags of these fun mega-sized
Valentine M&M's with messages on some.

Speaking of Valentine's -
hubby gave me this gorgeous box
of chocolates - lips, heels, lipstick
and gold - how girly and gorgeous and
delicious too!

Visit Bonnie to tell her congratulations
on winning!

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