I made this meal for my Dad at his request. I seldom ask him what theme he wants. I usually make whatever I want. This time I thought that weather was appropriate since he often talks about the weather. I asked him which weather theme he wanted. He said, “clouds with lightning bolts”.
Container: Cloud box from Japan (set of 3)
Large Box: Clouds – cheddar cut with cookie cutters, Lightning – carrot cut with cookie cutters, cheddar mashed potatoes with garlic and Butterfly Pea Flower Powder
I made this colorful and delicious meal for myself.
Container: Cloud box from Japan (set of 3)
Top Box: April – carrot cut with cookie cutters, clouds – cheddar cheese cut with cookie cutters, blueberries
Bottom Box: May – carrot cut with cookie cutters, flowers – yellow and red bell pepper cut with cookie cutters, dried blueberries attached with spaghetti, rice mixed with roasted broccoli and Asiago cheese, more roasted broccoli under the rice
Awhile ago, I made this meal for my friend Carol. She had recent dental surgery and needed to eat a soft food diet. I made and delivered this meal and then we both ate and visited over video. It was a simple meal but I hope that it added some fun to eating a soft food diet.
My parents have made a version of this for many years (probably at least 35 years). Over the years they make it slightly different – sometimes with candied fruit, sometimes orange zest, sometimes lemon zest, sometimes nuts on top, sometimes an icing drizzle. They used to make a large one but now with only a few people, they make half the recipe. I included a photo of the original recipe but they do it their own way. They make the bread the night before and leave in an off oven until morning. They usually put dyed hard boiled eggs on after baking.
As usual, we had a nice time with a beautiful table, delicious food, and gifts from the Easter Bunny.
What are Wagashi? Wagashi are traditional Japanese sweets usually served with green tea. Most of the ones I made here are in the Nerikiri style. Traditional Nerikiri Wagashi are soft and smooth. They are made by hand from rice flour and white beans and are often filled with red bean paste. Wagashi are made to represent the seasons.
What are my imitations? I decided to make food that looks like Wagashi but are really savory food. My bird, flower, and balls on a stick are cheddar cheese mashed potatoes. Greenhas finely chopped fresh spinach leaves. Yellow has tumeric. Red has tomato paste. Purple has Butterfly Pea Flower powder.
Why I made these? Inspired by Fukuyadou Honpo (Kyoto Love Story) drama I watched on Amazon Prime in the winter. The drama is set in Kyoto at a traditional Japanese sweet shop. I only have a little experience eating actual Wagashi and not the Nerikiri type I imitated here. I used one potato and ate these as part of my dinner.
How to make? Probably the most difficult part is getting the mashed potatoes the correct consistency to shape by hand. I got lucky with these (I did not add butter or milk). But I have experience with shaping mashed potatoes. The strawberry is covered with Greek yogurt. I also include a spinach pancake leaf with potato ladybug at the end of this post.
My Spring Potato Wagashi Set:
Bird – Cheddar mashed potatoes with Butterfly Pea Flower powder, candy eye
Hanami Dango – Green – cheddar mashed potato mixed with finely chopped fresh spinach leaves, White – cheddar mashed potato, Pink – cheddar mashed potato with tomato paste, wooden skewer cut to size
Flower – Cheddar mashed potato with tomato paste, Center of Flower- cheddar mashed potato with tumeric, Leaf – spinach. Use the side of a chopstick to press into a mashed potato ball to make the petals. Make an indent in the center with the larger end of a chopstick.
Strawberry Daifuku – Strawberry dipped in plain Greek yogurt. Freeze.
Leaf with Ladybug – Leaf – pancake with finely chopped raw spinach, cheddar mashed potato ball, Ladybug – cheddar mashed potato with tomato paste, black sesame seeds, black food coloring
Dishes: The small leaf and flower plates are from Natural Kitchen (100 Yen store in Japan).
I enjoyed making this Wagashi set for spring. I am already thinking about ideas for the other seasons.
Maple Vinaigrette – Olive oil, white wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, maple syrup whisked together (I did not measure but I have experience making vinaigrettes).
Three Cheese Flower Shaped Ravioli – This is my favorite pasta dough, I used a flower shaped cookie cutter to cut the dough. The filling is Ricotta, Asiago, and Mozzeralla cheeses with some garlic powder, salt and pepper. Cook in boiling water for about 5 minutes. After plating, sprinkle dried basil on top.
Tomato Sauce – Sauté onion and garlic in olive oil, add canned strained and chopped tomatoes, basil, and oregano, cook for about 25 minutes.
Roasted Asparagus – Drizzle a little olive oil over asparagus, roast asparagus in a 420 degree oven for about 10 minutes. Add Asiago cheese after plating.
No-bake Lemon Cheesecake Cups with Raspberries – soften 8 oz cream cheese, whip a small container of heavy cream with some vanilla and a little sugar, whip cream cheese with some sugar and lemon zest, fold cheese mixture and whipped cream together with a spoon. Put some raspberries on the bottom of each container, spoon the cheese / whipped cream mixture on top, garnish with more fresh raspberries.
My critique of the meal: We all loved it. I don’t think that I would have done anything different. But if I really need to be critical, maybe next time I would plan a decorative center on top of the flower ravioli. I thought about it ahead of time but did not plan anything. Last minute as I was plating, I sprinkled some dried basil on top of the ravioli.
This week I received my second COVID-19 vaccine. It seemed fitting to make a themed meal for myself to honor the occasion. I was excited to use the COVID-19 cookie cutter made by my friend Renae. She now has a 3D printer and has made several cookie cutters for me!
My cheese person getting a COVID-19 vaccine is not wearing a mask so you can see the smile. The smile is there since it was suggested by my friend Renae. Without the face, it was not clear what was happening here. Sometimes I send images to friends while I am in the middle of making something to see if they know what it is supposed to be. Also, often I make art with people or animals without facial details and wish later that I had included a face.
Container: Wooden box purchased in Kyoto at Bento&co.
Contents: Person: cheddar cheese, Face: paprika and food coloring, Shot: cheddar cheese, food coloring, spaghetti, Other: roasted asparagus, Broccoli Quinoa, COVID-19 tortilla chips: flour tortillas cut with cookie cutter, (place on cookie sheet sprayed with cooking spray, brush with olive oil, bake in a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes or until lightly browned and crisp), Other: pecans, fresh broccoli.
I have a longtime fondness for stickers so I was especially happy to receive this sticker after getting my vaccine. Also, I like to think that I am tough.
Camels – tortilla chips – flour tortillas cut with cookie cutters, (place on cookie sheet sprayed with cooking spray, brush with olive oil, sprinkle with smoked paprika and bake in a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes or until lightly browned and crisp)
Left Side: Emperor – garlic mashed potato with spinach and radish details, painted with green food coloring mixed with water, Empress – garlic mashed potato with spinach and radish details, painted with red food coloring mixed with water, snow peas, radish flower cut with a cookie cutter
Top Right: Dry roasted edamame
Bottom Right: Greek yogurt mixed with raspberry jam, strawberries cut with a cookie cutter
I made this as part of dinner for myself. Will March come in like a Lion and go out like a Lamb? This proverb to describe the weather in March amuses me. It was fun to celebrate the idea of upcoming spring with this themed meal.
Lion: Sweet Potato cut with a cookie cutter, roasted in oven
Lamb: White Potato cut with a cookie cutter, roasted in oven
Grass: Pesto made with fresh basil, lemon juice, walnuts, Asiago cheese
I made this lunch for myself and decorated it with flamingo shaped radish. I picked this theme since I wanted to use my flamingo cookie cutter for the first time. On a whim I colored them with Butterfly Pea Flower Powder mixed with a little water.
I made this dinner for myself. It was easy and delicious! I am glad that I enjoy cooking and can make interesting food for myself. I don’t think I had ever made romesco sauce before. I had all of the ingredients. It was quick to make in my food processor. Usually I don’t like raw garlic but I enjoyed it in this meal.
Left Side: Heart Eyes Emoji – cooked Nishiki rice pressed into a round emoji cookie cutter, cheddar cheese broiled on top of rice. Eyes – radish cut with mini heart cutter. Mouth – spinach cut with a mini cutter, peas
To celebrate my friend Carols birthday with her this year I made and delivered dinner. Then over zoom we ate together and talked. She requested the same meal as last year. I prepared the Wellington the same way as for our virtual Thanksgiving.
I made this two box meal for my friend Deborah on her birthday. I was happy to try making an earth out of eggplant! When I delivered her food, we went for a walk. It was lovely to go for a walk together. The air was crisp and woods pretty from a recent snowfall. And I always enjoy speaking with Deborah.
Contents: Earth – roasted eggplant brushed with a little olive oil and Butterfly Pea Flower Powder for the water and some basil-lemon-walnut to represent land. Hands – polenta cooked in vegetable broth, cut with cookie cutter, mashed garlic broccoli (to make it vegan for my friend, I did not use cheese)
My Dad ate this potato and cream cheese penguin for lunch. He did not know what it was supposed to be but he said it tasted great. Both my Mom and Dad independently turned the lunch around and though it was a dolphin.
I love the song, Carol of the Bells. This year it was my inspiration for Christmas dinner. When I first told my Mom the theme, she seemed confused but planned beautiful table decor. I made the menu cards and we used bell napkin rings that I made for this dinner. We played various versions of Carol of the Bells during our courses.
We decided to space out the courses throughout the day. It was fun that my niece who was not able to join us, figured out the spacing since my Mom sent her a photo after each course.
Cracking and eating nuts at the end of the meal is a family tradition. We used a historical wooden nut bowl that I remember from my Grandmothers house when I was a child.
I liked having my Dad’s onion rings as a course. He made them so it gave me time to do other things. This was my first time making bell shaped cocoa ravioli. I was concerned that my Mom would not like it. Both of my parents loved the ravioli. I was on the fence about them. But I thought they looked beautiful especially with the combo of the brown ravioli and orange pumpkin filling. We all enjoyed the Leek Potato Galette with Pistachio Crust. The cake was delicious. My Mom made it in 6 inch pans and frosted it. She used Raspberry Jam from France. My only contribution to the cake were the decorations. I wrote “Merry Christmas” in leftover frosting dyed green (snipped the corner off a zip lock bag), and used mint leaves, pomegranate seeds, and raspberries. My Dad made cappuccino which is always appreciated. It was a special meal.
We decided on a Snowman theme for our traditional Christmas breakfast table this year. I love the snowball lights my Mom found! This was at least our second time making a citrus snowman but this year was the best. I made the chocolate hat and my Mom did everything else. A wooden skewer holds the grapefruit, orange and clementine together.
This year we did something we never did before. You don’t have to have children around to have fun. We wore matching pajamas.
I don’t know when I first started making Pig Scones but it could have been as long as 1992. I make them most years but I don’t usually blog it. Including this year, the pig scones are in three blog posts – 2014, 2018, 2020.
I was fortunate to spend 5 days at my parents house for Christmas this year. When my Mom and I planned the meals, she wanted to have themed nights celebrating different countries. My Mom planned the tablescapes for each of the meals. My parents researched traditional Christmas celebrations in each country. It inspired the table decorations. Also they prepared fun facts about the holiday celebrations. The table decorations were special and added to the atmosphere. The German wooden winter pyramid was a huge hit. We delighted in watching the scene spin around from the heat of the candles.
This year my parents came for Thanksgiving. We shared the same food and ate together virtually with my friend Carol. I delivered the food to Carol and gave her instructions to cook the main course the same time I cooked ours. I am glad that she lives nearby. I was distracted by actually having people at my place and I forgot to bring the wellington sauce to Carol. It worked out fine. I drove it over to her between courses and it gave my parents time to talk to her without me around.
Table: I borrowed my Mom’s plates, place mats and napkins. (I sent a place mat, and napkin with cornucopia ring over to Carol with the food. She used her families China.) My Mom made the flower arrangement. She filled her ceramic pumpkin with fresh flowers. I bought and used the cornucopia napkin rings in NYC in 1999. This may have only been my second time to use them since my family did not remember them.
Main Course:Vegetable Wellington (I used assorted bell pepper, zucchini, and asparagus. I put the vegetables, goat cheese, and homemade pesto in store bought puffed pastry cut into rectangles that I folded over), Citrus Beurre Blanc sauce
My critique of the meal: I think that all involved enjoyed this in-person / virtual meal. I enjoy doing virtual meals. The sweet potato vegetable course was a huge hit! It was a wonderful combination and I am sure I will make it again. It was my first time making candied nuts. They were easy to make and delicious. I think this was my third time making this vegetable wellington but the first time making it individual. It enjoyed making it this way. I think I was the only one who did not like the apple filling for the oatmeal cookie cups. We all liked the cookie cups.
This year I made a gingerbread castle for Sweet Creations at the Eastman Museum. I used a slightly smaller board (14 x 16) and created an easier to assemble design. In the past I relied on an extra pair of hands from friends. Because I am limiting time I spend with people indoors, I did it alone. I had a wonderful time! When my castle was done, I wished I could actually go and visit it and walk on the bridge.
Royal Icing Recipe: I love using this recipe which uses Meringue Powder. It hardens fast and in works very well.
Castle Flat Roof – Red sanding sugar attached with royal icing
TurretRoof: Ice cream cone with Wrigley’s Spearmint gum shingles (cut with cookie cutter)
Flags: Gum painted with red food coloring, linguini poles
Tower: Round gingerbread cookies (cut with a cookie cutter), glue cookies with royal icing, wrap in fondant, roll stone texture roller over fondant. Larger gingerbread cookie round on top of tower – decorated with green balls.
Wreaths: Royal icing dyed green, piped with pastry bag, small red round decorations
Doors: Gingerbread with red decorating balls
Present: Peppermint candies with red fondant bow
Bridge – Gingerbread covered with strips of brown fondant, holes made with toothpick.
Stone Walls – I used a stone texture roller on dough before baking, after assembling castle, I sprayed the castle with edible glitter. Caution: I would not recommend using edible glitter. A lot of glitter gets into the air and you could breathe in edible glitter.
New techniques I tried this year: Rice Krispie Treats, created a fondant dragon, fine coconut for snow piles, icing wreaths with pastry bag, edible glitter, towers (I tried baking two different types until I ended up using cookies covered with fondant.)
My Gingerbread Collection: Go here to see most of my gingerbread creations.
For the 4th year in a row, I made gingerbread for the Eastman Museum’sSweet Creations gingerbread show. Things are different this year because of COVID-19. The museum allowed less gingerbread creations. I received a letter in August inviting me to participate because of my history with the show. All of the pieces have gallery covers. For the first time, the auction to benefit the museum is now online. Go here to see all of the creations and to place a bid. To see the gingerbread in person, visit the Eastman Museum by December 13. Reservations are required.
Here is a sampling of some of my favorite gingerbread creations from this year.
I made this for my friend Carol on a summer evening we had dinner in her yard. When I make themed pizza, I like to make several themes at once. I gave this to her as planned leftovers for the next day.
Left Side: Frankenstein – cheese cut with a cookie cutter, painted with food coloring and water, paprika details put on with a toothpick, Brown Rice and Wild Rice Pecan Stuffing (I used vegetable stock.)