Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Mocha Mousse Cake it's oh-so-good

The more things I try from the Confetti Cakes Cookbook, the more I like the book.  This time I tried the chocolate cake recipe.  Although the baking times were WAY off for my oven, the cake turned out quite nicely.  It was chocolatey and fairly moist.  Although, I would absolutely recommend allowing this cake to sit completely filled and frosted for a few hours to a full day before serving...As it was far more moist and tastey the second day.  What sets this cake apart from the chocolate-cake-wanna-be recipes I've tried in the past, is the use of both vanilla AND almond extracts as well as strong brewed coffee.  While I knew that coffee tends to bring out the chocolate flavor, it never occurred to me to include almond extract.  Almonds go very well with chocolate so it's no surprise that this flavor lights up this cake.

Now, please don't be confused...Elisa Strauss from Confetti Cakes does NOT call this chocolate cake recipe Mocha Mousse.  Instead, I used this cake recipe as the base for another favorite recipe of mine, Mocha Mousse cake from Betty Crocker.  Betty's recipe calls for a box cake, but I'm trying to go more "from scratch" these days.  I love the mocha mousse filling, though it doesn't have the structural support for stacked and decorated cakes.  In fact I whipped this cake together and rushed it over to my in-law's house without letting it set-up in the fridge for 2 hours as suggested.  As a result, the cake was leaning a you might be able to see from the photo.  Leaning or not it tasted good, and it has already become my chocolate cake recipe of choice.

This is a relatively short post, as I'm working on a monster cake for this weekend.  Check out the Confetti Cakes Cookbook in my Amazon Astore!  (see the link to the left of this post)  Happy Baking!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Fresh Blueberry Pie

Fresh blueberry pie

I recently read an article that suggested that homemade pie making was a dying art.  And I can totally see how this could be true.  In this ready made world it's very tempting to just buy a crust at the supermarket and be done...Or better yet, just buy the pie.  Between the supermarket bakery and sara lee's frozen pies, why would busy mom's and dad's take the time to make crust and pie from scratch?

And I'm guilty of the same type of thinking.  It had been so long since I had made pie crust from scratch, I had forgotten just how simple it is.  The recipe is only four or five ingredients long.  Flour, salt, shortening and water for the basic crust.  Cut the flour and salt into the shortening until it looks like coarse crumbs.  Then add enough water to make the dough stick together and form a ball when lightly pressed  with a fork.  Divide the dough into two balls.  Press one ball to a 1/2 inch thick then roll out on a lightly floured surface with a rolling pin.  Done!

So at 7pm I decided to make a fresh blueberry pie to use up some of those fresh blueberries I picked the other day.  To make the crust extra flaky the recipe, from my Pillsbury Complete Cookbook, said to add 2 tsp of sugar to the flour and 2 tsp of vinegar to the water.  I tried to find the recipe on the Pillsbury website but they don't have it listed...So I'll take a chance and reproduce it below.

Double crust recipe:
Stir together in medium bowl the following.
2 c. all purpose flour
2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp salt
Cut in shortening using a pastry blender or fork until coarse crumbs form.
2/3 c shortening.
Add liquid one tablespoon at a time by sprinkling, until the dough forms ball when lightly pressed with fork.
5-7 T. water
2 tsp vinegar
Divide into two equal balls.  If one is slightly larger use that as the bottom crust.  Flatten one ball to about 1/2 inch thick.  Roll out on a lightly floured surface until it is the size needed to fit your pie pan.  Roll dough onto your rolling pin and lift into your pan.  Trim the edge to within 1/2 inch of the pan's edge.

Blueberry filling:
Combine in a medium bowl and stir gently.
4 c. fresh blueberries, washed and stems removed
3/4 c sugar
1/4 c flour
2 tsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
Pour blueberry mixture into the prepared pie shell.
Dot blueberry mixture with butter.
2 tsp. butter. (which I just realized I forgot to do last night.)

Top with remaining crust.  Now this is the step where you can make a plain old pie look like something special.  I saw this in a magazine once and remembered to do it last night.  I rolled out the top crust and found a medium sized cookie cutter.  I cut out star shapes from the middle of the crust.  I placed the crust on top of the filled pie, sealed the edge and then placed the star cut-outs on the top.  The recipe suggested brushing the top with milk and a sprinkling of cinnamon and sugar.  And here it is!  What do you think?

Bake for 45-55 mins at 425F, covering the edge after 20 mins to keep it from browning to much.  The top is a golden brown and the star cut-outs make it look really nice.  And the taste?  Delicious!  Even without the butter.

Samantha really gets into her dessert!

Here's Samantha thoroughly enjoying her slice of pie.  She really gets into her dessert. (Quite literally)


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Electrical Engineers, every household should have one.

My darling husband was able to troubleshoot the problem, order the correct part and then install it.  This means no need for the service guy to come out and spend hours trying to figure it out and then charge us an arm and leg to fix it!  Yippee!

He fixed it on Saturday morning while the girls and I spent in.  That evening we had the thing hot and baked up a batch of venison meatballs.  I love having a Do-it-yourselfer in the house!

Thank You PAUL!!!  I LOVE YOU!!!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Blueberry Buttermilk Syrup - from Life's Recipes blog

I don't remember how I ended up there but I stumbled upon this blog called Life's Recipes.  (Click here to head over to Jocelyn's blog.)  And the post for the day was this recipe for Blueberry Buttermilk Syrup.  The photo of this navy blue syrup over the pancakes had me at hello.  And since I've gone a little crazy picking blueberries twice this year, I decided to make it for my pancake dinner.

WOW!  If you like buttery sweetness, this is the syrup for you!  One stick of butter and a cup of sugar are the dominating flavors in this concoction.  And I am simply in LOVE with the navy blue color.  Maybe next time I'll add more blueberries or add blueberries to the pancakes (I left most of my pancakes plain and had just a few with chocolate chips), to boost the blueberry flavor.  I'm not sure I'll love the dark blue color when I'm doing the twins' laundry but only time will tell.  Though the girls did gobble up the pancakes and syrup with great enthusiasm, which is always a good thing since two year olds tend to be finicky eaters.  Or at least mine are.

So then we got to thinking what else would this syrup taste good on.  Ice-cream came to mind for my husband...And of course I thought of cake.  Can't you just see it?  A pretty little bundt cake with navy blue icing drizzled over the top and sides.  If my oven ever gets fixed maybe that's what I'll make next.  Until then, we're eating off the grill and stovetop.


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Northern Sweet Tea

These leaves aren't mint.
Can you guess what they are?
Sweet Tea is a staple in the south.  Every restaurant and southern host has it.  But here in the north, for some reason it's not so sweet.  You can find fresh brewed iced tea but it's always unsweetened.  Maybe the sugar that's added in the south contributes to the welcoming southern hospitality.  Not sure, but sweet tea is a favorite of mine (big surprise I know) and I'm always trying to reproduce that flavor at home.  I still haven't mastered it.

It's iced-tea, how hard could it be?  I KNOW!  But still, the flavor just isn't the same.  Not sure if it's the brand of tea, the fact that I'm using decaffeinated tea or some secret ingredient I'm missing, but somethin's not the same.  Here's my recipe all the same.

4-5 tea bags (I'm using Lipton's Decafe)
5 cups hot water from my coffee maker (a DeLonghi coffee / espresso maker)
2/3 of a 2 qt pitcher filled with ice
1/3 c sugar (I must be a northerner cause some of the recipes I saw called for 1 cup of sugar for this amount of water)

My "tea" pot.  This is actually a self portrait.
 I put my tea bags in the coffee maker's pot and run it for the full pot of water.  I let it steep a bit and then pour the hot tea over the ice and sugar in the pitcher.  Stir it all together and enjoy immediately or let chill in fridge.

If I have any major break-throughs in the tea department I'll let you know...Or if you have any suggestions use the comments section to leave your recipe.  Either way, enjoy a glass and relax this summer.

 My oven is broken, what do you expect me to blog about??

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Have I been baking too much?

Because my oven died last night.

I was preheating for another double chocolate zucchini cake.  I was scraping down the mixing bowl with my back to the oven when I heard POP.  And saw, out of the corner of my eye, a flash of light.  OMG!  What was that?!  I spin around and the oven display is blank.  I reach out and slowly open the oven door, as if sparks were going to leap out at me when I opened the door...Seems silly now, but felt like the right thing to do at the time.  The light is on, no smoke or fire.  Then it's starts beeping at me and flashing "F1" on the display.  OK, what is going on here?  I'm starting to freak out.

I hit clear-off.  It stops and seems happy. Though now that I think about it, I don't think the clock was displaying at that point.  Run to see if my husband is close by, but he's taken the kids up to get the mail and he's at the road.  I have a LONG driveway.  OK, get the owner's manual...But it's beeping again.  CRAP.  I'm freaking out a bit more now and worried it's going to catch on fire and burn my house down while I'm looking for the STUPID manual!  Where is it!!!

Run down stairs with it still beeping it's warning that I can only assume is a self destruct timer about to go off.  Run through the maze that is our basement to the electrical breaker box.  Flip the first switch marked kitchen.  RATS!  That's not it I can still hear it from upstairs...Starting to panic a bit more now.  Wait a minute, could it be this one that says "STOVE"?  Flip that one and all is quiet.  Back of upstairs. No fire.  Good.  Manual?  Where are you?  FOUND it.  sigh of relief.

Manual:  "F1 indicates the electronic controls have detected a fault."
Me:         "REALLY?  NO S@#$!  What's the fault?  What just happened?"
Manual:  "Unplug the range, wait 30 seconds and plug it in again. If the fault code reappears with a continuous beep unplug and call for service."
Me:         "I just heard a POP and saw a flash of light coming from my oven and YOU want me to plug it back in?"
Manual:  "Unplug the range..."
Me:         "Fine!"

I get Paul to bring everyone back inside so that the whole family will be together when the thing blows up as he flips it on at the breaker while I wait and watch for F1 and the self destruct warning.
Great idea.
Luckily, it doesn't blow up.   The F1 fault doesn't come back but when I try to set the clock, it's not responding properly.  "Shut it off." I scream to Paul who's still in the basement.  I'll call for service in the AM.

Well, half a dozen or more calls to the service folks and this is the story.  They are booked and can't schedule service until Tuesday or Thursday of next wk.  They looked up the fault code and they talked me through resetting it and I was able to get the clock and timer to work.  The stove top is functioning but the oven and broiler stay cold even when I asked it nicely to turn on.  Meanwhile, I brought the cake batter over to my mother-in-law's house and baked it up over there.  I had also intended to make zucchini muffins last night was well. (can you tell that my zucchini plants are still reproducing like rabbits out there?)  I guess that will just have to wait for repairs and we'll use the grill for our dinners these next few days.

It's true.  Life really is an adventure.

Streusel Topped Peach-Blueberry Pie

(I wrote this post about a week ago and just recently got the photos that I took with someone else's camera.  Keep that in mind while reading the timeframes mentioned.)

This one is right out of my Pillsbury Complete Cookbook, which I really like by the way.  In fact I was able to find the recipe on their website and if you'd like to view it, click here.

Oops.  I went a little crazy in the blueberry patch again.
We were given more than a half dozen peaches a week or so ago as a host gift for inviting our friends Mo and Jamie over for dessert (double chocolate zucchini cake) and a fire.  Thank you Mo and Jamie...We ate a bunch and still had 4 small ones left, until I NEEDED to bake something.  So into the books I went to find something peachy.  I wanted to make a cobbler, but didn't have enough peaches.  I think the cobbler recipe I was eyeing required 6 cups of peeled and sliced peaches.  Then I found a picture that looked good and only required 4 cups.  And if I added some blueberries I knew I could swing it.  Plus I went a little crazy and picked another 11 pints of blueberries.  So I have to start stuffing blueberries into everything I make for the next few days.

I was feeling lazy and frugal, so instead of making my own crust...I used the single left-over Pillsbury pie crust I had in the fridge.  I know, I'm sure I just lost a viewer for admitting to using store bought pie crust.  And I'm filled with shame...Wait, no I'm not.  Life gets busy and though my mother would try to make me feel guilty about not doing EVERYTHING from scratch, the truth is that sometimes it's just easier.  And these pie crusts are pretty tasty.  I just wish they were a little bigger since the pie plates I own seem to be deep-dish 9" plates and those pillsbury crusts need to be stretched a bit to fit.

My whole house is filled with the scent of baked cinnamon and sugar.  Gotta LOVE it!  So why not share this dessert with family?  Call up Paul's mom and ask if we can come to her house for dessert and a change of scenery for us.  After dinner?  Great.  Only one problem...there's a storm comin'.  Well, it's just a little weather, or at least that's what I said to Eileen when she called to say don't bother coming out in this weather.  I didn't think it was rainy that hard.  But by the time we got everyone ready, boots on, coats on, pie in the carrier waiting by the door, it had turned into what I'd say is the closest thing to hurricane conditions that I've ever since.  But that didn't stop us from dashing the 10 feet from the end of our garage door to the van parked in the driveway.  By the time we all jumped into the van we were soaked. I couldn't see the end of the driveway and the sky was the strangest shade of yellow-orange.  We drove slowly the 3/4 of a mile to grandma's house only to dash from the van into her garage and get soaked again.  Luckily when it was time to head home, the storm had passed and the sky was clearing.  The pie tasted good and we all had a nice visit...But I'm not sure I would venture out again in hurricane like weather to share some pie.

The first strange thing I noticed was the small hibiscus tree near the garage was at a 45 degree angle pointed toward the driveway.  I walked around the corner and to see that everything has been pushed AWAY from the house.  The wheelbarrow, garbage tote and all the plants are pushed away from the side of the house.  The lid to our deck container (those big plastic containers that hold the cushions for the patio furniture) is across the lawn but the bottom is missing.  Wait, I see it, across the yard in the other direction.  Walk around the back of the house and the gas grill (200 pounds and on wheels), has been push across the deck and spun 180 degrees from it's original position.  But the towel that was draped on the railing right next to the grill is still in place, like there wasn't any wind at all.  WEIRD.  Micro burst.  We had something like this happen last summer too.  Some trees were broken and battered, while others nearby seemingly untouched.

What was I talking about again?  Oh yeah, pie!

Check out the recipe.  Peaches are coming into season and blueberries are still going strong.  Remember buy local (go to and enjoy a slice of the good life with fresh fruit desserts.


Sunday, August 14, 2011

The latest addition of Gardens Gone Wild

What a strange growing year this has been.  This spring was so wet and rainy that most everyone I know, including the farmers, were delayed in planting.  Our yard was flooded.  The rain finally stopped and then we were in a drought.  We needed to water our garden most days.  We haven't had to mow our lawn in over a month.  Our entire lawn was brown and dormant.  The rain started again and now the garden and lawn are growing like crazy.  It's a jungle out there!!  The zucchini and tomato plants are almost as tall as I am.  I'm no giant but I think a 5' 4" tall zucchini plant is pretty big.

August 8th we picked...

  • 9 cucumbers (some of them had been lost and were the size of large zucchini)
  • 4 "early girl" tomatoes
  • 6 carrots (the inside is still a bit green so I'm not sure they're fully ripe yet)
  • 20 Hungarian peppers
One day's harvest.  That big thing in the back center is a cucumber not a zucchini.  Oops.

The following day we picked...
  • 3 zucchini
  • 11 tomatoes
  • 2 more cucumbers
What does a family of 4 (2 adults and 2 two-year olds) do with all this???  Well, the cucumbers went to the Webster Community Chest.  They accept donations of perishable items, like the over-abundance of your family garden.  Thank GOD for that.  There are only so many cucumbers a person can eat.  At least I can bake the zucchini into something.  The Hungarian peppers are Paul's and I have NO idea what he's going to do with them all.  

We're keeping a garden journal.  Logging in the harvest every day so we can analyze it at the end of the season.  What else would you expect from two engineers?!  We have everything dated so next year we can time our plantings to extend the season or at least stagger it so we're not overwhelmed.  Well, that's the idea.  And maybe we can estimate how much we saved in produce cost at the store.  I'll tally it all up at the end of the year and let you know how we did.  I have great expectations.  And I'm sure you will be sitting on the edge of your collective seats in an anticipation of that post.  Until then, enjoy.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Homemade Chocolate Chip French Vanilla Ice-cream

Now I haven't done any research on this, but it seems that the difference between regular vanilla and french vanilla ice-cream is the use of real eggs.  Or at least that's the only real difference I can see from the two vanilla ice-cream recipes that came with my Deni ice cream machine.  And the only reason I'm making french vanilla ice-cream is because my pasteurized egg whites were out of date when I wanted to make vanilla ice-cream.  So I gathered up my guts (I've been afraid to use real eggs in ice-cream) and got to cooking.

The recipe is straightforward; eggs, sugar, milk, cream and vanilla.  Start out with the milk and eggs blended together in a large pot.  I used my KitchenAid Hand blender, which I LOVE, but I was worried I'd end up slinging eggs all over the counter as I did while trying to make something recently.  (see that post here)  I did NOT sling eggs this time and was very pleased not to have to clean up the mess.  Add the sugar and stir constantly over low heat until thickened and the mixture coats the back of the spoon.

Now the book claims this all should take, "approximately 10 minutes".  BULL!  I stood there and stirred for 28 minutes!  I made sure to watch the clock.  Meanwhile, my two two-year olds are creating havoc around me and I'm tied to this stupid pot!  Why, you ask, did I start this when the kids were around?  Well, because I set them down at the table with play dough and if the entire process had taken 10 minutes, as advertised, I would have been fine.  But 12 minutes into it the girls are "SO DONE" with play dough and I had another 18 minutes to go!  Fabulous.  My husband comes in and wonders "why are the dogs gated off of the kitchen", "what is on the floor, the table top and in Livi's hair"?  Homemade play dough (salt dough is toxic to pets) is the answer to all of those questions, now don't bother me I'm making ice-cream and it's SUPPOSED TO BE DONE ALREADY!!!  P.S. I love you sweetie.

Custard coating the back of the spoon.
OK.  It FINALLY coats the back of the spoon and I think this is the same process for homemade custard.  Yippee!  I have concurred my fear of eggs!  Now it's time to let it cool slightly before adding the cream and vanilla.  After which point you put everything in the fridge for the night.  Did I mentioned that it's just about this time that Paul sees a line of ants marching through our kitchen and into a cabinet and he decides he needs to take everything out to clean it and find where these little buggers are going?  No? I didn't mention that part?  Well, maybe I'll leave that for another post.

Here's R2

24 hours later...No more ants, I have an empty shelf in my spice cabinet, the kids are napping (I learned my lesson) and it's into the cupboard I go to fetch R2D2 (I have affectionately named my ice-cream machine, see an early post about that).  Turn R2 on and let him spin for about 1/2 an hour.  The ice-cream is nearly over-flowing the machine and I'm adding mini-chocolate chips at my husbands request.  Let it stir a bit while I find a container to transfer it to.  No matching lid, that's OK I'll find it later, such is my life.

And this is the finished product.  Homemade Chocolate Chip French Vanilla Ice-cream.  If I never post again, you'll know that the eggs weren't fully cooked and we all died from salmonella poisoning.  Let's hope for the best.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Blueberry jam or is it jelly?

Farm fresh blueberries bound for a jelly jar

I can never remember the difference.  I think one has seeds and fruit bits and the other does not.  Any way...

I went blue berry picking last Monday for the very first time.  When I was growing up, my sister and I would go to the orchards and farms with my mom for strwaberries, cherries and apples, but she never went for blueberries.  And I've honestly never really been a big fan of blueberries until this summer.  This is the summer of food discovery for me.  Up until a month ago I hated sweet peppers, until I tried them again, fully expecting to hate them still, and to my surprise - I don't hate them.  Same with blueberries.

So I decided to go blueberry picking.  It was SOOO easy!  The bushes were LOADED.  I wished I brought my camera.  I just put the pint box under the limb and pulled ever so slightly on the bunch and they fell into the box by the half dozen or more.  In less than 30 mins I had collected 10 pints!

Now, what to do with all these berries?  Jam.  Or is it Jelly.  Oh who cares!  It's good either way.  And surprisingly easy to make as well.  Once you've got your jars, just buy a box of Sure-Jell and all the instructions are right inside.  It goes something like this.  Wash up your jars, lids and metal rings.  Put the lids in some really hot water and let them sit until your ready.  Wash up your fruit and crush it down, measure out the needed amount and boil it with the Sure-Jell pectin.  Then add your sugar and boil it for a minute or so.  Pour the piping hot fruit into your jars and then give them a hot water bath to seal.  Again, just follow the directions in the Sure-Jell box and they'll tell you everything you need to know.

Now, not everyone can do this in their own home...I had to go to my mom's house.  And that's because I have a glass top stove.  The glass can't handle the weight of the pot of water and filled jars.  So I have to pack up everything, including my twin daughters and haul it over to mom's house.  But in the end the jam is SOOO good, it was worth the hassle.  I've been eating blueberry jam (or jelly) on toast every day for at least one meal a day for the past few days now.
Homemade blueberry jam on toast.  YUM!

You should try it!  Or at least go to your local U-pick farm and pick some to eat out of hand.  You can check out this site called to find a farm near you.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Double Chocolate Zucchini Cake

We have a garden and every year we plant zucchini.  Usually 2-3 plants.  Now, I'm not sure if you've ever grown zucchini, but with enough sun and water ONE plant could feed a small country.  And we plant 2-3. So I have zucchini stuffed in every place I can find space.  I'm tripping over them!  You think I'm exaggerating.  I have eight zucchini in the house right now.  All ranging in size from 1-3lbs.  And that's after my husband brings them into work to share with anyone who will take them.

At first, people are glad to receive the bountiful harvest from our garden...After a few weeks though, I need to get creative.  Thus, today's topic, the double chocolate zucchini cake.  It's based on the same premise as the carrot cake.  If you add enough sugar and fat, you can hide all kinds of veggies in a cake, with the added bonus that the zucchini makes the cake really moist.  So moist that I sometimes have a difficult time getting it out of the pan.  Like this morning.  Look at this....Isn't it lovely?

Maybe next time I'll cover the bottom with parchment paper.  And I don't think I'll use the pyrex pan again.  The glass holds onto the heat and maybe that's contributing to the stickiness.

OK, so here's the recipe.

1 c. brown sugar
1/2 c granulated sugar
1/2 c butter, softened
3 eggs
1/2 c oil
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 c soured milk (1/2 T. lemon juice + milk to make 1/2 c)
2 1/2 c flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
4 T. Baking cocoa
2-3 c. grated zucchini
1/2-1c chocolate chips
Cream together the butter and sugars, in a large bowl of an electric mixer using the paddle attachment.
Sift together the flour, cinnamon, salt, baking soda and cocoa in a medium bowl and set aside.
Add to the butter and sugar mixture the eggs, oil, vanilla and milk.  Beating on med-low just until combined.
Add the flour mixture and stir until combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
Stir in the zucchini and chocolate chips.
Bake in a 13x9 in baking dish greased with cooking spray in a 325 degree F oven for 45-60mins.  The baking time can vary based on the amount of zucchini you include.

Now this cake is good eaten plain but to make it super rich and decadent, cover in cream cheese frosting.  YUM!


Monday, August 1, 2011

Beach Themed Birthday Cake

Finished cake and cupcakes

I had lunch with a friend who said she was having a birthday party (pool party) for her daughter, who was turning 10 yrs old.  "Do you need a cake?" came spilling out of my mouth before she could finish her sentence and to my great pleasure she said that she did.  The birthday girl knew exactly what she wanted.

Beach themed red velvet cake with buttercream frosting (I convinced them to go with cream cheese frosting), complete with blanket, sand-pail, umbrella, sand and water.  You've gotta love a girl who knows what she wants!
I am STILL enjoying Debbie Brown's Gorgeous and Gruesome Cakes for kids book, and in there she has an underwater palace cake with fabulous sea creatures that I wanted to try my hand at...So, here's the idea.  13x9" Red Velvet cake, part beach - part ocean.
Deep Red Velvet cake frosted with sand colored frosting

I put sea creatures around the base of the ocean side as if you had sliced into the ocean and could get a glimpse of what lie beneath.  I ground up Nilla Wafers for the sand, tinted the cream cheese frosting a royal blue ocean and a little brown for the sand.  Covered the cake board in sand fondant and attached a ribbon around the edge for that finished look.  And it really did make it look great.  I always feel a little guilt putting fondant on a cake board since it's food that will never get eaten but it really ties the whole thing together and give it a professional look.

close up of the beach

I used white and chocolate marshmallow fondant to make sea shells.  I tinted the white MMF various bright colors and using Debbie's book as I guide made a number of different ocean inhabitants, including coral, fish, starfish and a dolphin jumping out of the water.  If I were to do it again, I think I would have made more prominent waves.  Live and learn I guess.

Close up of the dolphin and underwater sea creatures

I also made a dozen cupcakes and decorated half as beach with shells and umbrellas and the other half ocean with coral and fish.

Close up of beach and ocean cup cakes.
I liked how it turned out.  Let me know what you think.