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Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Panda Party with Yin Yang Birthday Cake

Posted by Kyle Design on November 14, 2013

Giant Panda Party with Yin Yang Birthday Cake

panda-pinata.jpgUnique Yin Yang birthday cake, giant panda pinata and bamboo decorations for Kayden’s 5th birthday. March 2004.

Panda Pinata

I created a giant panda pinata by transforming a lion pinata purchased from a local Mexican grocery store. (They usually have an extensive choice of pinatas from which to work.) Starting with packages of black and white tissue, I sliced folded lengths of tissue paper using my fringe template from my sewing supplies. I glued these on with glue stick and then added black construction paper eyes, mouth and nose.

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Homemade Yin Yang Cake Instructions

yingyangcake.jpgBake 2 cakes – one white, one chocolate.
Switch layers, with chocolate on the bottom and white on the top.
To create the curve of the yin yang design, fold up a 15″ long piece of aluminum foil (Reynold’s Release foil works great for this) until it is only about 1″ high to create a 15″ x 1″ piece of stiff aluminum that will hold its shape.
Use the Yin Yang pattern (at bottom of this page) to bend the aluminum into the correct “S” curve shape.
Grease aluminum strip, then bend to fit pattern.
Lay on top of cake.
Frost one side with white frosting, the other with dark chocolate, pushing it right up to foil pattern.
When done, remove foil, then gently push frosting together along seam line.
For dots, use black and white M&Ms or mints. I used the York mints and just frosted the top of one with white.
Scroll to bottom for free printable yin yang cake pattern.
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Panda Party Decorations

panda-party.jpgOn the invitations, we asked all the kids to wear black and white clothing to the party which really added to the atmosphere. We found a black and white zebra print plastic table cloth and plastic utensils to set the stage. Next we created yin yang party plates. Start with two packages of white plates and one package of black party plates (depending upon amount needed – you’ll only need half as many black plates). Cut the black plates in the “S” curve of the yin yang pattern, then overlap one half onto a white plate and glue in place. Finish them out with white and black adhesive label dots. We bought white label dots and colored them in the yin yang pattern and placed a couple on every paper cup. We asked a friend to bring some bamboo cuttings from their yard to place in the corners of the room, added black and white streamers and pulled out all the stuffed panda animals that we had to complete the decor. For goody bags we assembled cellophane bags of black and white jelly beans tied off with black and white curling ribbons, and tucked these inside zebra striped purses along with an animal print bandanna (both available from Oriental Trading.)

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Treasure Hunt Game

This is a very popular activity. We had a treasure hunt with black and white animal pictures (zebras, cats, dogs, skunks, tigers, etc., and of course lots of pandas). Download images or photos (there are many good free clip art sites) of the animals and print both a small clue-sized version of each one you plan to use in addition to a large one. Fold up a small clue and tape it behind the next large picture. Tape up the large pictures around the house and yard. (Be sure to add false clues so they can’t skip ahead.) I recommend writing down the clue list and numbering each one so you are sure to keep them in the right order. Set aside the starting small clue to give them at the start of the game. The prise at the end consisted of inexpensive stuffed panda beanie baby-like toys that we’d found. (The dryer is a always a good hiding place for the treasure.) The kid’s even enjoyed re-hiding the clues afterward for more fun on their own.

Panda Keepsake Gift


panda-nitelites.jpgSurprise the birthday girl or birthday boy with a keepsake gift from his or her panda party – this Panda Night Light from Kyle Design is sure to make a memorable keepsake from this themed party. Shop other unique panda gifts for other gift ideas.
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Panda Bookark Party Favors

panda-silverbookmarks.jpgSend each of your child’s friends home with a personalized panda party favor bookmark – available in different colors for each party guest.
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Free Printable Yin Yang Cake Pattern

Print out the Yin Yang pattern here:

yinyangpattern2.jpg

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Monkey Cake with Face & Body

Posted by Kyle Design on November 14, 2013

Monkey Birthday Cake with Arms, Legs and Tail!

cute-monkey-cake.jpgI decided to try making my own monkey cake after attending a party with a simple store-bought one. When I went looking for monkey cake ideas, all the examples I found just featured monkey heads. So I decided to create a monkey cake with a full-body raised monkey dancing in the jungle. Your kids will really appreciate your making a special cake just for them. Really, it is not that much work and it will mean so much more than just buying a cake at the store.

Visit Unique Monkey Gifts and Favors for many fun ideas – monkey night lights for kid’s bedroom, monkey jewelry boxes, monkey earrings and more.

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monkeycake-bakingpans.jpgMonkey cake baking pans.

  • Display Platter: Create a display plate by covering a piece of cardboard with wrapping paper. Have ready to go when cake comes out of the oven.
  • Cake Batter: I used three batches of cake to make this one. I make my cakes from scratch which really doesn’t take much longer than box mixes and you can avoid the trans fat that way. There are recipes on the box of cake flour.
  • Sheet Cake: I used 1-1/2 batches for the 12″ x 18″ sheet cake pan. I lined the pan with parchment paper per cake instructions and it came right out the pan. (Loosen cake around edges then place display board on top of pan and flip the whole thing.)
  • Cake Body: Create your own parts by placing foil forms inside another baking pan. I created the rest of the body parts by forming rounded head and torso pieces using Reynold’s Release aluminum foil. Fold a long length of foil over on itself twice, so the finished width is about 3″ wide and 18″ long. Shape an oval head about 5″ across and a body about 6″ across and 8″ long. (See what fits in the pans you have and adjust accordingly.) Tuck ends inside the fold and set into baking pan. Pour in cake batter and bake immediately. A small amount of batter may leak out from under forms (let your kid just a early taste of their cake) but for the most part they bake up just fine.
  • Monkey Ears, Arms and Legs: I poured a small amount of batter into a glass cruets for the ears. For the arms and legs, I poured batter into a special pan I have that has extra edges, but any square or rectangular pan will do. (Add foil divisions to pan before pouring in batter so as to create 2″ wide lengths of cake. Leave one larger square area that you can cut the tail out of. It will make it easier to frost later.)
  • Assemble: Tuck wax paper under edges of sheet cake to protect paper while frosting the cake. Tint white frosting green and frost sheet cake. I added wavy lines all over the surface to resemble vines.
  • Arms and Legs: To create the arms and legs, I cut lengths of 5″ long x 2″ wide cake at a diagonal about half way down the length, then switched the left and right end pieces to create the bend in the legs and arms. Gently cut the tail out with a small, sharp knife. Carefully assemble body parts on top of frosted sheet cake, trying to avoid getting too many crumbs on it. I cut a crescent out of the ear circles so they would fit up against the head snuggly.
  • Frost: Make chocolate frosting, reserving some to add to white frosting later to create the lighter body and ear areas. Frost cake dark brown. Add lighter frosting to ears, face and torso. Add Junior Mints for eyes, caramel pieces rolled into nostrils and either black licorice string or black decorating gel for the smile and hand/feet details. For the finishing touch, I decorated around it with some jungle tree branches. You could also cut leaves out of construction paper.

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Monkey Keepsake Gifts

If you’re throwing a monkey themed party, consider giving the birthday girl or boy a monkey keepsake gift like this monkey memory box.

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monkeymagnetsclips.jpgMonkey Party Favors

Kyle Design has a great selection of monkey gifts – many of which make great party favors. Consider gifting monkey bookmarks or monkey magnets as unique party favors at your monkey themed party.

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Posted in Food, kids, Party Ideas | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Aztec Chihuahua Dog Birthday Cake Instructions

Posted by Kyle Design on November 14, 2013

Shop Chihuahua Party Gifts

How to Make a Unique Beverly Hills Chihuahua Cake

chihuahua-cake1.jpgCreated this cute and unique 3-D seated Chihuahua dog on a 3 layer birthday sheet cake pyramid for my daughter’s 9th birthday Aztec Chihuahua Party. Used both chocolate and vanilla cake recipes so kids would have their choice of flavors.

Be sure to check our all of our cute Chihuahua Gift Ideas, too!

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 Aztec Chihuahua Cake Directions

dog-cake-baking-pans.jpgChihuahua Dog Cake Baking Pans: Baking pans used for creating Chihuahua dog cake: 12″ baking pan, 10″ square sheet cake, 8″ cake pan, 2 quart Pyrex mixing bowl (dog torso) and small Pyrex cruet (dog neck).

  • Vanilla Layers: Lined all sheet cake pans with parchment paper. Made two triple layer vanilla cake recipes from the Soft as Silk cake flour box.
  • Divided them between one 12″ square sheet cake pan (or a 12″ x 18″ pan and trim it down after baking) and one 8″ square baking pan.

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 Building an Aztec Pyramid Dog Cake

cake-building2.jpgCut out semi-circle from front edge of chocolate cake to create recessed chest area of the chihuahua dog. Made one triple layer Devil’s Food Chocolate cake recipe from side of cake flour box and divided it between one 10″ square sheet cake (for center layer), one 2 quart Pyrex mixing bowl (dog torso) and one small Pyrex cruet (dog neck).

  • Note that Pyrex mixing bowl had to bake about an extra 20 minutes – touch center to test if it springs back to indicate it’s done. Let cool and remove from pans according to directions.
  • Place on a large wrapping paper covered piece of cardboard. Tuck pieces of wax paper just under the edges that can be removed when done frosting the cake.

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Trimming Sides of Dog Head

trimming-dog-cake-torso.jpgTrim sides of larger form about 1″ off each side. Split one of the trimmings in half vertically, placing one slightly back on each side of dog torso to create haunches.

  • Seated Dog: To create the warrior dog sitting on top of pyramid layers, cut out semi-circle from front edge to create recessed chest area. Trim sides of larger form about 1″ off each side. Split one of the trimmings in half vertically, placing one slightly back on each side of dog torso to create haunches. Discard (or eat) remaining trimmings. Use pretzel logs to add legs and paws. Add small cruet to top of torso, securing with frosting.

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Layering the Chihuahua Cake

cake-building1.jpgAlternate chocolate and vanilla layers and add frosting in between. Mount dog on top. Frost with chocolate frosting.

  • Paper Head: Wad up paper in the shape of a dog head. Tape to hold form. Tape on two large ears cut from card stock. Use two bamboo skewers to poke into bottom of head, then push into neck and torso cake forms to mount. This also helps to hold the whole cake together.

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Creating the Chihuahua Dog Cake Form

chihuahua-birthday-cake.jpgShape dog head out of paper. Add two large ears cut from card stock. Add pretzel stick legs, thin curled cardboard tail.

  • Frost: Make buttercream frosting recipe and frost everything – white for pyramid, chocolate for dog – including the paper head and ears.
  • Trims: Decorate with black gel or black construction paper to create eyes and nose. Create headdress from card stock on bamboo skewer, decorating with wrapping paper, construction paper, scrapbooking sheets, ribbon or whatever other colorful trims you have around.
  • Finishing Touches: I decorated the edges of the temple with florets of frosting using a pastry bag, but you could use a plastic bag trimmed off at the corner.

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Shop Chihuahua Party Gifts

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Posted in Food, kids, Party Ideas | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Dolphin Cake Instructions

Posted by Kyle Design on November 14, 2013

Homemade Dolphin Birthday Cakes

dolphinscake.jpgCreated these cute 3-D jumping dolphins on a sheet cake for my daughter’s Ocean Party for her 8th birthday. Used both chocolate and vanilla cake recipes so kids would have their choice of flavors. The kids especially liked the hard sugar sea creatures used as accents.

Jumping Dolphins Cake Directions

  • Bottom Layer: Bake one 12″ x 18″ sheet cake in chocolate using a double cake recipe. Let cool and remove from pan according to directions. Place on a large wrapping paper covered piece of cardboard. Tuck pieces of wax paper just under the edges that can be removed when done frosting the cake.
  • Raised Dolphins: To create the raised dolphins, copy and print out the 4 pieces of dolphin cake patterns shown here. (Click photo to enlarge, copy, past into Accessories > Paint program, print.) Tape together to create a 12″ square.
  • Foil Patterns: Using long pieces of Reynold’s Release aluminum foil, fold over three times to create stiff guides 8 layers thick. Bend the foil strips to match the dolphin cake patterns. Place in a 12″ square cake pan that has been greased and floured (use parchment paper, too, if you have it).
  • Batter: Pour in cake batter (1-1/2 recipe) in and around dolphin patterns. Bake. Cake will pull away from foil patterns slightly.
  • Assembling the Dolphins: Remove extra cake from around outside edges of dolphins. Gently remove dolphins and set on top of frosted bottom layer, assembling large dolphin body and tail. Frost. Add M&M eyes.
  • Finishing Touches: Make whitecaps in the water with white sugar. Add hard sugar sea animals along edges and in open ocean areas for added color.

Dolphin Cake Pan Patterns

dolphincakepatterns.jpg

foildolphinpatterns.jpgDolphin Cake Foil Pan Patterns

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Free Printable Dolphin Patterns

Print and tape together to create the pattern for your home-made dolphin cake.

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Dolphin Cake Pattern Top Left

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Dolphin Cake Pattern Top Right

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Dolphin Cake Pattern Bottom Left

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Dolphin Cake Pattern Bottom Right

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Bridal Barbie Birthday Cake

Posted by Kyle Design on November 14, 2013

Unique Homemade Barbie Bride Birthday Cake

barbiecake.jpgBridal Barbie cake for Kayden’s 4th birthday features a strapless gown with full skirt. December 2002.

Bridal Barbie Cake Instructions

  • Mix a white cake mix and pour into both a deep Pyrex mixing bowl (mine is from Pampered Chef) PLUS a small Pyrex cruet (4 oz. type).
  • Because the large bowl is flat on the bottom, the cake needs the extra small domed filler of the cruet at the waist to smooth out the angle.
  • Put cake on cake stand.
  • Rim edge with wax paper strips to keep cake stand clean while frosting.
  • Hold small cake in place on large cake with some white frosting. Use a grapefruit corer to cut oval leg hole through the center of this stack.
  • Insert washed Barbie doll.
  • Frost all the way up to top of dress.
  • I made tiny swirls in dress all over.
  • Tie her hair with some white ribbon and add some tiny white flowers to her hands and her hair. Very well received!

barbiecakepans.jpg

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Extra Crispy Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp And Pie – Experimenting is Fun!

Posted by Kyle Design on June 13, 2009

It is fruit and berry season again, and the first day of summer vacation for the kids. I’ve just baked my second pie of the week plus a strawberry rhubarb crisp, with the help of four kids – my girls, age 10 and 13 and their boy cousins, age 11 and 14. Baking is a great way to keep kids busy, have them learn some new cooking skills and have them experiment with some new flavors. New for the boys: cardamom. New for all the kids: rhubarb.

Fresh Fruit Business Card Holder for farmers, foodies and anyone who loves summer

Fresh Fruit Business Card Holder for farmers, foodies and anyone who loves summer

(My first pie of the season was a bit of a disaster – my oven broke while the pie was in it baking – no flaky crust there! Just a soggy mess – sooo disappointing.) Oven has been fixed, and I was wanting to erase the bad pie memories with the wonderful smell of fruity baking goodness.

Love to bake? Enjoy fresh strawberries? Capture the spirit of the season with a strawberry name badge holder.

Love to bake? Enjoy fresh strawberries? Capture the spirit of the season with a strawberry name badge holder.

Today’s pie is a strawberry rhubarb pie, which was my dad’s favorite. With Father’s Day coming up next weekend, memories of him are on my mind. We used to grow rhubarb in our backyard growing up and when I saw it at the Farmers Market I knew that was the right pie for this new memory making job.

We made pie dough from scratch – really not hard or too time-consuming when you have a Cuisinart, although it turned out a little sticky for some reason this time. While waiting for the pie crust dough to sit in the refrigerator for an hour, however, we whipped together a slightly different strawberry rhubarb crisp that was really good (and gone before the pie was even come out of the oven, so I guess this new flavor was a winner!)

I’m an artist  – I love to experiment and try new ways of doing things and trying new flavors. Yet another creative outlet for me! My youngest daughter does not like fruit (horrors!), so I make a batch of crisp topping for her separately. This time we made a double batch and discovered that the extra crispy bits were especially good mixed into the regular crisp. Always something new….

Extra Crispy Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp

Filling

2 c. rhubarb, cubed into 1/2″ pieces

Encourage Kids to Cook and Plan Meals with a Cooking Bookmark for Cookbooks

Encourage Kids to Cook and Plan Meals with a Cooking Bookmark for Cookbooks

1 c. sliced strawberries

1/2 c. sugar

3 T.  flour

1/4. cardamom

dash of nutmeg

Combine and pour into a greased 8″ x 8″ baking pan.

Topping

1 c. brown sugar

1 c. flour

1 c. old-fashioned rolled oats

1/4 t. ground cardamom

dash of nutmeg

1/2 c. softened butter

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Combine topping ingredients in bowl or plastic bag and mix thoroughly. Sprinkle half of topping mix over filling. To create the extra crispy topping, pour the remaining topping mix into a separate greased oven-proof pan and bake at the same time as the pan of filling and topping. Remove the crispy topping after about 20-25 minutes (keep an eye on it so it doesn’t burn), and continue baking the filling and topping pan for about 10-15 minutes more, for a total of 35 minutes.

Serve up the crisp filling and sprinkle the extra crispy topping over it, stirring in if desired. The result is a delicious chewy, crispy, sweet, sour mix of flavors and textures.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie - Good memories in the making, and the baking

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie - Good memories in the making, and the baking

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie – This Pie Is Really Good!

3 c. rhubarb, in 1/2″ slices

1 1/2 c. sliced strawberries

1 1/4 c. sugar

3 T. tapioca

1/4 t. salt

1/4 t. ground cardamom

1/8 t. ground nutmeg

3/4 t. grated orange peel

Strawberry Pie ala Mode Christmas Ornament - A great way to capture those memories of baking together.

Strawberry Pie ala Mode Christmas Ornament - A great way to capture those memories of baking together.

Mix above ingredients and let sit for 15 minutes before pouring into unbaked pie crust.

Pastry for two-crust pie

Roll out pie dough and line a 9″ pie pan with one of the crusts. Pour in fruit mixture, cover with top crust and crimp edges. Cut a few slits in the top, sprinkle with a little bit of sugar. (To protect edge of crust from getting too dark while baking, cut length of foil, cut in half length-wise and wrap over crimped edge of pie.) Bake at 400 degrees for 50 minutes, removing foil after 30 minutes if used.

If you love to bake or know someone else who does, please be sure to visit Kyle Design’s Baking and Cooking Gift Ideas pages, as well as our other pages for Strawberries, Fruit, Pie, Christmas Ornaments, Business Card Holders, Vitamin Boxes and Bookmarks for other interesting gifts for those who appreciate the different.

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Posted in artist, Artistic Gifts, Badge Holders, Bookmarks, Business, Business Card Cases, business card holders, Christmas Ornaments, Cooking, Creativity, family, Father's Day, Food, Gifts, Healthy eating, kids, Lifestyle, mom, Online Shopping, Pill Boxes, professional artist, Recipes, Shopping, Unique Gifts | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Easy and Delicious Pumpkin Bread Recipe – 40 Years in the Making

Posted by Kyle Design on November 24, 2008

Add a touch of charm to your Thanksgiving Day decorations with this stained glass Pumpkin night light.

Add a touch of charm to your Thanksgiving Day decorations with this stained glass Pumpkin night light.

Celebrate a Special Anniversary, Birthday or Milestone with this 40th Christmas Ornament

Celebrate a Special Anniversary, Birthday or Milestone with this 40th Christmas Ornament

With Thanksgiving coming up in a few days, I thought I’d post my family favorite Pumpkin Bread recipe. This recipe has been in my family for over 40 years and has been tweaked over time to suit our tastes, adjusting quantities up or down to get it to where we think it is just right. (It’s that creative side of artists – everything is fair game!) Everyone loves it and it disappears quickly at parties.

Another note on this recipe: it contains no cinnamon but rather cardamom which we prefer for its more complex flavor. Cinnamon can easily be substituted for the cardamom in the same quantity.

Spice Buying Tip: You can cheaply buy most spices at Indian grocery stores if you have any in your area.

Kyle’ Pumpkin Bread Recipe

Spiced Pumpkin Bread is delicious at Thanksgiving or any time of the year

Spiced Pumpkin Bread is delicious at Thanksgiving or any time of the year

5 c. flour
3-1/2 c. sugar
2 t. baking soda
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. ground nutmeg
1/2 t. cardamom
1t. cloves

2/3 c. oil
1 large can (15 oz.) pumpkin puree

1/2 c. – 1 c. walnuts (optional)

Sift dry ingredients together (I use a large sieve.) Mix oil and pumpkin puree together, stir into dry ingredients just until mixed. Add nuts if desired. Pour into greased and floured pans – 2 bread load pans or 6 small (3” x 6”) loaf pans (nice size for gift-giving). Bake at 350 degrees – large pans for about 75 minutes, small pans for about 60 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.

Preparing a Thanksgiving feast for a crowd can be stressful - keep your pain relief pills handy in this Turkey Pill Box

Preparing a Thanksgiving feast for a crowd can be stressful - keep your pain relief pills handy in this Turkey Pill Box

Thanksgiving can be hard on the wallet, but this metal Pumpkin wallet will protect your cards and cash, and look good, too.

Thanksgiving can be hard on the wallet, but this metal Pumpkin wallet will protect your cards and cash, and look good, too.

One Thanksgiving we bought pumpkin pie mix instead of pumpkin puree and used it before we realized our (BIG) mistake. Yuck. None of us likes pumpkin pie, but we all love this pumpkin bread and we were sorely disappointed when the bread tasted like pie!!

BTW, even my daughter who is a picky eater loves this recipe, and I think it is a great way to expand her range by getting her taste buds accustomed to some new flavors.

Click on Thanksgiving Gifts, Pumpkin Gifts, or 40th Anniversary Gifts to see more of my unique gifts for the holidays such as the night light, Christmas ornament, metal wallet or pill box shown above, most of which may be custom engraved.

At Kyle Design, we ship within  1-2 business days, even with custom engraving and personalization with colors and designs so if you’re shopping online and want something special, affordable and fast, be sure to check us out.

Our gifts make great housewarming or hostess gifts, too, because they are practical, useful gifts that are attractive yet still reasonably priced.

Posted in Cooking, Food, Gifts, Holidays, Recipes | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Slow Food Nation in San Francisco – Kids Are Foodies, Too

Posted by Kyle Design on September 1, 2008

Ever tried eating snail? This bread display makes it appealing!

Ever tried eating snail? This bread display makes it appealing!

I took my girls (9 and 12) to the Slow Food Nation 2008 show in San Francisco Saturday. The deal was, if I was going to spend $65 on a ticket for each of them, they were going to try everything. I feel I got my money’s worth out of it because we overcame some big food hurdles this weekend, in particular with my youngest who is a picky eater.

Slow Food USA is a movement promoting good, clear, fair and sustainable foods and the pleasure of eating them. We attended the Taste Pavilions and loved almost everything we tried (and tried again). It was wonderful! We had tickets for the 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. time slot, got very lucky with parking in the Fort Mason center and then lined up behind the other 2,000 foodies waiting in line to get in at the stroke of 5:00. There were some other kids, but certainly not a lot – maybe about 20.

As you enter, you walk past the brick ovens baking bread and pizza outside the pier and your salivary glands go wild. We came hungry and left stuffed and happy, yet still had extra spaces on our taste cards for more if we were so inclined. You receive tickets for 20 tastings, and samples “cost” from 1-3 tasting dots. When I first got there I thought, “Oh, I can eat more than that.” HA! By the end, my daughters were trying to give away our extra tickets, but everyone they approached had the same stuffed-to-the-gills look on their faces. We ended up leaving our unmarked tickets on the table for any hungrier (or thirstier) individuals who might exist.

Slow Food Nation Taste Pavilions - Ate Like a Pig and Proud of It

Slow Food Nation Taste Pavilions - Ate Like a Pig and Proud of It

The taste pavilions were divided up into about 13 different sections: Fish, Charcuterie (Meats), Honey and Preserves, Chocolate, Cheese, Olive Oil, Tea, Coffee, Ice Cream, Pickles and Chutney, Breads, Wine, Spirits, Beer. As it turns out, we only went to about half, but didn’t feel like we were missing out at all. Our stomachs are only so big!

ice Cream Flask - Eating and Drinking Were the Nights Mission

ice Cream Flask - Eating and Drinking Were the Night's Mission

Ice Cream: We went through this line twice. We went through it at the beginning when the line wasn’t that long (we decided to have desserts first, then dinner foods – why not?) The raspberry sorbet was heavenly! And my youngest (who does NOT EAT FRUIT) loved the chocolate cherry ice cream!!! You get 3 flavors for two dots, and they had 3 assortments each time. Of course, later, when everyone was ready for dessert, the line was huge, but since we knew how good it was the first time, we were happy to wait for the new selections. The only one we didn’t like was the lemon goat cheese ice cream. It really just tasted like frozen goat cheese, and I prefer to eat that in small bites on salads and in pasta dishes. I don’t need a whole bowl of it. It could have been interesting if the goat cheese flavor were more subtle instead of overwhelming.

Cheese: Turns out, the cheese ice cream was the closest we got to sampling cheese. We kept hoping to get back to the cheese line, but it was always at least a 45 minute wait. But I take my girls out to the Cheese Board in Berkeley at least once a year to sample new cheeses, so it didn’t feel that critical to us to wait in a line that long. We asked one woman how her cheese was, but she only liked one of the three, so that demotivated us as well. I know, we should not be basing our actions on a sample of one stranger, but, oh well. But if we’d waited in line and they’d served us lemon goat cheese, I would have been in big trouble.

Eat Whatever Turns You On - Fish Rotary Light Dimmer Knob

Eat Whatever Turns You On - Fish Rotary Light Dimmer Knob

The children loved the opportunity to touch and explore the fresh fish.

The children loved the opportunity to touch and explore the fresh fish.

Fish: The fish was delicious – we tried octopus, tuna, sardine and an orange-fleshed fish called cra (sp?). Sooo flavorful! There was a cool display of freshly caught fish that we were all able to touch, including a monk fish (no scales!) that had unfortunately died before being caught. (If it had been alive, they would have thrown it back because it has been over-fished.) There was a very friendly and informative marine biologist (Ed) there answering all of our questions and explaining the differences between the different varies – halibut, tuna, etc. Fish eyes don’t feel anything like I was expecting….

Bee Pill Box - You Could Even Carry Your Bee Pollen In It

Bee Pill Box - You Could Even Carry Your Bee Pollen In It

Looks Cool, Smells Good

Beeswax Quilt with Real Bees: Looks Cool, Smells Good

Honey and Preserves: My hands-down favorite. The peach jam from Dry Creek Peach & Produce in Healdsburg, CA was so good I nearly came to tears. They raise their own peaches and pick only the best ones for their jam, and you can absolutely taste the quality. The honeys were really good, too, and my nine-year-old tasted honey for the first time. She LOVED the coffee-infused honey. (She’s been trying to recreate it since we got home.) Cool display: the beeswax quilts that still have bees embedded in them.

Wine, Beer, Spirits: We skipped the Wine, Spirits and Beer pavilions because I don’t drink (and neither do my children, of course) so that would not have been of interest to any of us.

Wine Connoisseurs Light Switch Plates

Wine Connoisseurs' Light Switch Plates

Chocolate Stamp Dispenser - Write to All Your Friends About How Good It Is

Chocolate Stamp Dispenser - Write to All Your Friends About How Good It Is

Chocolate: The dark chocolate samples were distinct and delicious, with the Amano being our favorite. They had actual cacao tree fruit pods and seeds (or beans). Another sampler had chopped cacao beans called nibs. They were chocolaty, crunchy and nutty at the same time, but not really sweet. They’d be great on top of ice cream and cakes, or just for a tiny, tasty snack.

Pickles, Chutney: Another long line for something I don’t particularly like and seldom eat. Maybe I’ve just been setting a bad example…. Chutney I like, but from what I could see, most of the samples were for pickles, which my girls won’t even touch. So I slid on this one.

Caffeine Business Card Case - The Kick in Tea and Coffee is Serious Business

Caffeine Molecule Business Card Case - The Kick in Tea and Coffee is Serious Business

Tea, Coffee: Skipped these too as I didn’t want to have caffeinated drinks late at night, otherwise I would never get to sleep. Also didn’t want to be giving my daughters caffeine that late at night either or again, I would never get to sleep. If we’d gone during the day, we definitely would have been in line….

We tried so many types of olive oil - huge variety of flavors, styles.

We tried so many types of olive oil - huge variety of flavors, styles.

Olive Oil: I had no idea the range of flavors that can be found in different olive oils! I always assumed that they would be close, and that maybe I would be able to tell the difference. But no! Shockingly different. Some I didn’t like at all – too bitter, others were nutty, others soft or spicy or sour. Very, very interesting and fun experience. My family’s favorites were the Bozzano and the Pacific Sun Proprietor’s Select. They were also offering samples of olive oil that you drink(!). My older daughter and I tried it, but decided it was not for us. Maybe not as weird as I first thought, but really, I don’t need to be adding random fat and calories to my diet. I would much rather be eating chocolate or jam. Lots of it, in fact.

Theres So Much More to Read About the Sustainable Food Movement

There's So Much More to Read About the Sustainable Food Movement

American Indian Foods: We tried bison stew, hominy soup and wild rice cakes. The stew and soup were both rich and delicious, but the wild rice cakes were a little bland.

The Bread display featured all kinds of fun animal-shaped loaves - alligators, lobsters, crabs, etc.

The Bread display featured all kinds of fun animal-shaped loaves - alligators, lobsters, crabs, etc.

Bread: Tandoori breads, pizza, bread sticks, all baking away in wood fired brick ovens glowing in the dusk of night. What can I say, there is nothing like fresh-out-of-the-oven bread. The smell is definitely part of the experience. Crispy and chewy, full of flavor, fresh toppings. We sat in a reed hut on rushes while eating our pizzas, protected from the winds outside.

The bread displays were fantastic, too. There was a giant snail, surrounded by cute alligators, crabs, lobsters and other animals, all made out of bread. Makes you want to bake up some fun shapes of your own. I think I will….

We stayed the full four hours, and left, well, full. For those who tried everything, I can only assume they were bursting at the seams.

We really enjoyed ourselves, experienced many new flavors (whew!!!), and I shared a love of good food with my daughters. We can taste the difference, appreciate it and crave it. It adds to one’s experience and appreciation of life, and my daughters were so proud of themselves. That makes me happy. Happy is good.

If you’d like to see more of the unique gifts above, please click on the photos or here for cool Pill Cases, Flasks, ID Badge Holders, Bookmarks, Stamp Dispensers, Business Card Holders and Light Dimmer Knobs and Switchplates.

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My Favorite Homemade Cherry Peach Rum Ice Cream Recipe

Posted by Kyle Design on July 14, 2008

Ice Cream and Sweet Treats ID Badge Holders add some fun when you have to wear a name badge.

Ice Cream and Sweet Treats ID Badge Holders add some fun when you have to wear a name badge!

Ice cream, it turns out, is still a very, very popular treat with Americans, especially kids. According to research by Mintel International as reported in the news, 91% of adults and 98% of kids ate ice cream in the last year. But apparently the frozen dessert market is actually stagnant: there was only a 1.8% increase in inflation-adjusted sales for 2006 and 2007, and there is only a 0.5% increase projected for 2008 and 2009. Hmmm. Hey America, time to get out of a rut with a new old-fashioned ice cream flavor?

Fresh Cherries Light Switch Plates add a dash of color and fun to kitchen or dining room.

Fresh Cherries Light Switch Plates add a dash of color and fun to kitchen or dining room.

I grew up with homemade ice cream. Our family favorite was Cherry Peach Rum Ice Cream (see recipe below) that we would prepare at our mountain cabin that my dad was building. We had no electricity and so would make it in an old-fashioned, hand-crank ice cream maker.

Mom would whip up the mixture in the kitchen using fresh peaches and pour it into the canister. All of us kids would take turns sitting on it to help hold it down for an adult or strong teenager to crank. We always made it at family reunions and parties. It was a activity that involved the whole family and was so much fun. (It is a great activity for any family to try!)

Mountain Night Light Lets You Dream of Fun Summer Vacations

Mountain Night Light Lets You Dream of Fun Summer Vacations

The hand-cranking men (usually) would compete to see whole could last the longest, the kids would get switched out for slightly older, heavier ones when the stiffening ice cream caused the maker to start jumping around too much. Mom would start setting out spoons and bowls for everyone as we all salivated and worked up a sweat.

And the result was just the taste of summer to me. Mixing up a batch nowadays takes me right back to those warm, wonderful, lazy (for the kids, at least – my school teacher dad was busy 12 hours a day building the cabin) summer days in the middle of nowhere where the only noise was the sound of wind moving through tree branches, and the hammer pounding nails….

And it just seems that when you have to work for something, it is that much sweeter when you get it.

Cabin Favorite Cherry Peach Rum Ice Cream Recipe

2 c. half & half
1 c. milk
3 eggs
Dash of salt
1 t. vanilla
1/2 c. sugar
1 T. rum
1 ripe peach, chopped fine
5 cherries, (fresh or Marischino) chopped fine

In a cold saucepan, beat and mix together the eggs, vanilla, salt and sugar until thick. Then pour the half & half and milk into the mixture of eggs and sugar while stirring. Turn on burner and heat gently, stirring until the mixture thickens. (Do not allow the mixture to boil or it will curdle.) Remove the pan from the heat when a film forms over the back of your spoon. Allow to cool. Stir in chopped peaches, cherries and rum. Transfer to canister and begin freezing in ice cream maker.

The time really got away from me writing this post – guess I just drifted off into happy thoughts of my childhood and the minutes just melted away…. Time to get back to work!

Ice Cream, Homemade Ice Cream Recipes, Vacations, Peaches, Cherries, Rum, Family, Kids, Switch Plates, Switchplates, Black Switch Plates, ID Badges, Night Lights, Summer, Mintel International, Consumer Products Research, Unique Gifts.

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Sunset Celebration Weekend 2008 – Cooking, Gardening, Ecology

Posted by Kyle Design on June 9, 2008

Mom and Daughter Event - Sunset Magazine's Celebration Weekend 2008Delicate Bamboo Earrings in Gold FinishJust returned from the 2008 Sunset Magazine Celebration Weekend in Menlo Park, CA. It featured cooking demonstrations, gardening lectures, food samples, wine tasting, test gardens, crafts booths, gourmet food vendors, presentations on going green and on solar energy among many, many others. We parked at Sun Microsystems where they had shuttles available to take us down the road to the fair, and that definitely was the best way to handle parking – quick, easy, and you save $1 off the general admission fee of $12 for adults. On the table at left are plates and bowls from Branch that are made out of bamboo – lightweight, colorful and very appealing.

Ecofabulous.com's Emilie Cowan at Sunset Celebration Weekend 2008I went with my 12-year-old daughter and we had a great time. We watched a green home presentation and fashion show put on by ecofabulous.com that featured clothes and accessories made with organic cotton, bamboo, recycled or sustainable materials, and which are made with fair trade labor. Emilie Cowan, the director of business development at ecofabulous, showed us several new products that we can use in our homes that are more eco-friendly that will work just as well as more harmful products we’ve been used to using.

Silver and Red Shoes Name Badge LanyardOne shoe company featured in the fashion show creates cool, fashionable footwear using recycled materials. They will be working with famous shoe designer Vivienne Westwood to produce a new line of shoes this fall, and I am really looking forward to seeing that. I took my daughters to the Vivienne Westwood show at the de Young museum last year and we were all blown away by Westwood’s talent and creativity.

Fun Activity for Kids - Rock Wall Climbing at Sunset CelebrationFor the kids, there was flower lei making courtesy of Hawaiian Airlines (note that they provided 500,000 flowers on Saturday alone!), a rock wall for climbing and plenty of food samples. My 12-year old enjoyed booths that featured metal sculptures, bamboo bowls, lamps, pretty fabrics, papers, handbags and jewelry that caught her eye, as well as the chickens in the sample chicken coop in the Sunset test garden.

Tropical Hibiscus Flower Compact Mirror in GoldWe attended a presentation by Flora Grubb of Flora Grubb Gardens of San Francisco about high style, low-water gardens who recommended a number of colorful, unique-looking plants that don’t require frequent watering, including leucadendrons, small aloes, upright grevilleas. They are perfect for our state of drought, because half the battle can be just remembering to water in the first place. The plants she brought to show us were much more forgiving for those of us who tend to forget to water. She quipped that “the plants that are pretty are the ones that are alive.”

Unique Light Switch Plates with FlamesWe made cheese and basil pizzas at the Weber Grill booth where they were showing off their very stylish Weber Q-100 compact gas grills – which I’m thinking about getting for a Father’s Day gift or as a birthday gift for my husband. It cooked up the pizzas really fast and they tasted great! Dinner tends to run late in my household, so we are all for anything that can speed up meal preparation or cooking.Wine Bottle and Glasses Note Holder in Wood

Robert Mondavi Winery had seminars throughout the weekend that features cooking demonstrations, wine education and tastings of their wines including some of their Private Selection wines. These seminars required a taste ticket, but were always packed.

Green House Business Card Wallet for Two BusinessesThere certainly was something for all ages, but slightly older kids would probably enjoy it more than the younger ones. I did not bring my 9 year old, which I think was a good choice. I heard whining by some young children who were not as interested in the cooking and gardening presentations as the older kids likely would be.

It was in the low 80’s, but there was a lot of shade from the very large trees as well as from the numerous tents and market umbrellas, so overall it was a gorgeous day. I would definitely recommend it to foodies, gardening enthusiasts, anyone going green and those who are environmentally conscious (as we all should be now).

If you are searching for more unique gifts, click any of the photos above or please check out my Cooking Gifts, Gardening Gifts and Wine Gifts.

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