Thursday, February 19, 2015

How to Remove Ugly Marks From Your Dishes

About 8 months ago I splurged 
and ordered some new dishes.  
Sadly, they now look like this

 I remembered reading a tip long ago about using 
Bar Keepers Friend to remove the marks.  
It was certainly worth a try.
You can get it at WalMart.

At first it didn't work so well for me.  
I was using a cloth and it seemed like the progress was slow.  
I discovered that if I used my fingertips with just a 
small amount of water I got much better results.  

Can you see the difference?
I'm a happy girl!

Maybe everyone already knew this but me, 
but just in case - I thought I'd share since 
nothing else I tried worked this well.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Chocolate Molten Cake - Lavender Tub Style

Nothing says "Be My Valentine" like chocolate, especially warm, gooey, molten chocolate.  Here is my easy version of this delectable dessert that is every bit as good as a restaurants.

 The first step is to make a batch of truffles, which is so much easier than you ever imagined.  

I double Martha Stewart's recipe, found here.  


  •   16 ounces best-quality bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  •   1 cup heavy cream


  1. Put chocolate into a large heatproof bowl. Bring cream just to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat; pour over chocolate in bowl. Stir in liqueur, if desired. Cover with plastic wrap; let stand 10 minutes. Stir until smooth. Let stand until thick, about 15 minutes.
  2. Pour chocolate mixture into a shallow 8-inch dish or pie plate. Cover with plastic wrap, and set aside.

If you decide to go ahead and make some truffles, click on that link and you'll see the complete instructions.  I omitted steps 3 and 4 for this recipe.  Also, you can make the truffles with chocolate chips, just know that the chips most likely will not melt all the way.  After you've let the mixture stand for 10 minutes, you can microwave in 15 second intervals to melt them completely, probably not more than 30-45 seconds total.  You don't want your beautiful chocolate to seize.
Lavender Tub Tip:  This truffle recipe is the same thing as Ganache.  You can make it before you sit down to your meal, and simply serve it as a dip with strawberries, cookies, pretzels, etc. for your dessert.  However, if you want molten cake, read on. 

You will also need:
Chocolate Cake
Magic Shell Topping
Vanilla Ice Cream - I think the flecks in the Vanilla Bean look pretty with this.  Make scoops ahead of time and keep in the freezer for easier assembly at presentation time

It is completely up to you whether you want to bake chocolate cake or simply purchase one.  The shape and size really depends on you.  For this post, I baked a cake mix in 2 small loaf pans.  I wanted to make desserts large enough to share with my Valentine, but you could also do them as individual servings by using cupcakes.

Cut a 1/2" slice off the top of the cake and set it aside.  Using a spoon, scoop out a small trough to contain the melted chocolate.  

Using a small scoop or spoon, fill the trough with the truffle mixture.  Replace the lid of the cake, and microwave for 60-90 seconds until all of the truffle chocolate is melted.  Slightly press the lid of the cake down in order to help ease the melted chocolate into the cake.  This also creates a small bed to hold the ice cream.

Top the cake with ice cream, and garnish with the Magic Shell.  Serve and Enjoy!


What do you think?
I think easy and a beautiful thing! 
For a wonderful meal idea to accompany 
this dessert, click here.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Scrumptious, Amazingly Simple Alfredo Sauce

Have you been trying to think of a nice dinner for Valentine's Day, but the thought of going out is ridiculous - and who wants to cook all day?  

I mean seriously!  I was watching Rachel Ray today and she was making an upscaled version of Eggs Benedict.  She had a pan going with leeks and garlic to which spinach was added.  She had a pan for homemade Bechamel sauce, another for poaching eggs, and she had 4 different containers to bread and fry the eggplant for the dish.  I love you, Rachel Ray, but if that's what it takes to be romantic - no thanks!
Here's an idea that requires only a little cooking, but it's so yummy you'll be glad you stayed in.  The secret:  fresh from scratch Alfredo sauce that only takes about 6 minutes to make.

Alfredo sauce from a jar is just plain blechy to me.  For a long time I tried to make Alfredo sauce, but it never turned out.  It was always globby or rubbery.  This recipe is the result of my many trials, and if you follow it precisely, you should end up with a delicious, smooth, creamy Alfredo sauce.

1 Stick of Butter
1 Cup Heavy Cream
2 Cups finely shredded Parmesan from a wedge 
Pinch of Garlic Powder

Finely shred a wedge of Parmesan cheese until you have two cups.  This is one of the very important steps, and the only slightly labor intensive part of this entire meal.  If you want good results the Parmesan must be freshly shredded.  You do not want any of the shreds from the store.  You can shred it earlier in the day, just be sure to keep it well sealed so it doesn't dry out.

Melt a stick of butter (not margarine) in a sauce pan on med/low.  You only want the butter melted, but not browned at all.

Add a cup of heavy cream (yes, heavy - you want this to be yummy, right?).  Stir frequently with a whisk until the cream and butter starts to bubble along the edges.  The idea is to have a hot liquid, but not boiling.  By the way, the black whisk I'm using is Pampered Chef, but from a long time ago.  I don't know where to get another like it, but it is such a great tool.

Now for the second really important step:  Once the cream/butter is bubbling on the edges, take it off the heat and start whisking in the shredded Parmesan.  Keep whisking until all the of the Parmesan has melted completely.  It is important to remove it from the heat, because that is what keeps it from getting overcooked and rubbery.  Add the garlic powder, and that's it!  Serve immediately.

For Valentine's Day, I purchase precooked chicken, shrimp, salmon, etc.  I boil some pasta ahead of time, rinse in cold water, drain well, and store in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.  When it is time for dinner, I put meat on each plate and cover it with the pasta.  I think doing it this way helps the meat not dry out as much in the microwave.  When the meat and pasta are warmed, I rearrange the meat to the top and cover everything with the freshly made Alfredo sauce.  Serve with a salad, and you have a lovely, romantic meal. 

Lavender Tub Tip:  If you have leftover sauce, reheat it in a pan over low heat.  If you microwave or heat it too high, the butter will separate out of it.  Likewise, if your sauce gets too cold while you're heating your Valentine meal, just gently rewarm it, stirring constantly.  You don't want the Parmesan to overcook.

Lavender Tub Tip:  You can also have several things ready ahead of time like chicken fingers, pieces of bread, potato wedges, cooked ziti pasta.....anything that would be fun to dip - and just make this a finger food meal.  Once the Alfredo is ready, dinner is served!

Please let me know how yours turns out, if you try this. 

And do come back tomorrow!  
I'll be sharing the dessert for this meal.
Click here to view that dessert.